There has been a lot of news coverage and analysis recently of a federal government sequestration and its potential impacts. At Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, our experienced policy and research staff have been mining their sources and sorting through all available information to estimate what impact sequestration could have on our movement for better trails, biking and walking.
The US Department of Transportation has determined that monies in the Highway Trust Fund are protected from sequestration. However, we can expect some cuts to transportation funds that do not come from gas taxes, which could marginally reduce road investments and multi-modal programs such as TIGER.
In addition, programs administered by other federal agencies that promote healthy, safe transportation and trails may also be cut. These programs include the Community Development Block Grants, CDC Community Transformation Grants, Department of Interior funds for trails, and other programs.
Here are some actions you can take to mitigate program losses due to sequestration.
1. Push project sponsors and state agencies to obligate funds as early as possible. As time goes on there will be less money available for unobligated projects.
2. Propose projects with higher than required local matches. Reducing the federal share will help the money go further.
3. Encourage state DOTs to use money from their safety programs for projects that benefit trails, biking and walking. Safety programs aren't being subject to the same cuts and thus have more money available. These funds can be used for education initiatives, encouragement campaigns and safety improvements to roadways.
Please take a moment to pass on this informational post to friends and colleagues in the trails and active transportation movement who might be interested. We will keep you updated as we learn more.