When Pennsylvania passed a comprehensive transportation bill, Act 89, in 2013, it was a big win for walking and biking in the state. The bill allocates funding for all modes of surface transportation—roads, transit, and yes, even walking and biking.
Although trails, walking and biking must complete against other types of transportation projects for the $144 million per year allocated to the multimodal fund, the bill guarantees $2 million per year specifically for active transportation projects. The bill is also innovative in its overall funding approach, eliminating a per-gallon gas tax and increasing the state’s wholesale gasoline tax and driver licensing fees.
Vital to passing the bill was the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition, a broad-based coalition comprising trail advocates, highway construction groups, public transit, local governments, chambers of commerce, farming organizations, tourism promoters and health groups. Though diverse in their interests and priorities, these groups share a common interest in building and improving the state’s transportation systems.
Legislators repeatedly tried to turn coalition members and their interests against each other. The frequency of coalition meetings and a strong, established sense of trust meant that coalition members didn’t bite on these attempts—instead seeing their vision of a comprehensive transportation-funding package through to the end.
Similar coalitions have formed in other states to promote increased investment in transportation and infrastructure funding. When active transportation advocates come together in pursuit of common interests, it can yield a winning strategy.