Thanks to all who are following the situation with the DOT recommendation for a “Major Amendment to the TIP” aka Major Amendment #11. This amendment proposes major reduction to Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) funding to make up for shortfalls in pavement and bridge funding. TAP funding is the primary source for bicycle, pedestrian, and transit projects.
The first presentation of this proposal took place at the monthly meeting of the Rhode Island Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) on Thursday, January 24, 2019 at 5:30pm – Department of Administration, One Capitol Hill, Conference Room A. The meeting was open to the public.
We’re all in this together! Everyone’s participation at meetings, discussions, and online in social media is always valuable. Let’s keep awareness high and information flowing. More public meetings coming soon.
I am a member of the TAC but was unfortunately out of town for this important meeting. I asked my colleagues on the TAC to consider these requests at the meeting:
1) Please consider and honor the concerns of those community members in attendance. The proposed reduction to TAP funding included in RIDOT’s recommendations is staggering and has long-term and ominous implications to TAP projects already funded, and to the statewide progress on all things active transportation. Specifically, please consider the urgent request to extend the period of community comment from 30 days to 90 days to ensure that everyone affected has time to receive, process, and respond to the Amendment content and for DOT to gather and process that response for our informed consideration.
2) Although the State Bicycle Mobility Plan is not yet adopted, it contains information and recommendations culled and developed over many months by a statewide coalition of expert stakeholders which are significant to improved planning. These recommendations should be considered valuable and relevant by state and municipalities alike even in advance of formal adoption of the plan.
3) Additionally: Considering bicycle, pedestrian, and transit projects as “alternative” – as in “Transportation Alternative Program” – and separating them in planning and funding is an
outdated practice that inherently maintains a car-centric culture which is cost-inefficient in planning, design and building our transportation network. While we are beholden to the language of federal funding, there may be ways for us to use this time to demonstrate what is possible when we look at bicycle, pedestrian and transit planning/accommodation as part of pavement and bridge planning. Is this a time when we as a state can demonstrate the budgetary efficiencies of complete streets planning – ie considering all road users in every road plan.
We need assurance of due diligence to serve the public interest and solicit their input. Public meetings should include presentations of the proposed changes and the public’s board – the TAC – needs to weigh these interests before making recommendations to the State Planning Council.
With thanks to all for your commitment to better roads and transportation planning for all road users. Feel free to contact me if you have any thoughts or questions.