US Gov't Mandates Bikeways & Walkways/Text of Highway Bond Ballot
US Department of Transportation Secretary has the authority to withhold approval for projects that would negatively impact pedestrians and bicyclists and recommends "Considering walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes." USDOT further says, "Transportation agencies should find ways to make facility improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists during resurfacing and other maintenance projects. (This is called sustainable or green transportation.)
Text Of Ballot Title For Highway Debt Bond Election, November 8, 2011 link: From this link: http://governor.arkansas.gov/newsroom/files/garvee_bond_election_nov_8_2011.pdf
I personally am going to vote against this bond indebtedness. I believe we all have the right to make our choice and argue our case without hard feelings, but I wanted to point out a few things that concern me.
We have been told by different proponents of the bill that this money cannot be used for anything except for the repair of the interstates. We have also been told it can't be used for bikeways, walkways, and pedestrian bridges. However, the language in the text of the ballot (see text of ballot at end of email) appears to allow for those: "The bonds shall be issued for the purpose of paying the cost of constructing and renovating improvements to interstate highways and related facilities in the State of Arkansas." Another phrase from the ballot says the bond money can: "include the acquisition, construction, reconstruction, and renovation of such interstate highway system and facilities appurtenant or pertaining thereto."
I am not saying that the bond funds WILL be used for bikeways, walkways, and pedestrian bridges, greenways, or mass transit stations; but I am saying I see nothing in the ballot that would keep that from happening. And I will be surprised if some of the money (and maybe more than we would even envision) is used for these "sustainable or green" forms of transportation. I base my belief on research I have done on the trends of transportation and on the "US Department of Transportation Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation Regulations and Recommendations", signed on March 11, 2010 by Ray LaHood, United States Secretary of Transportation.
Below are quotes (Emphasis added) from that document that can be found at this link: http://www.dot.gov/affairs/2010/bicycle-ped.html
"The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) is providing this Policy Statement to reflect the Department’s support for the development of fully integrated active transportation networks. The establishment of well-connected walking and bicycling networks is an important component for livable communities, and their design should be a part of Federal-aid project developments. Walking and bicycling foster safer, more livable, family-friendly communities; promote physical activity and health; and reduce vehicle emissions and fuel use. Legislation and regulations exist that require inclusion of bicycle and pedestrian policies and projects into transportation plans and project development."
"The DOT policy is to incorporate safe and convenient walking and bicycling facilities into transportation projects. Every transportation agency, including DOT, has the responsibility to improve conditions and opportunities for walking and bicycling and to integrate walking and bicycling into their transportation systems."
"The Secretary has the authority to withhold approval for projects that would negatively impact pedestrians and bicyclists under certain circumstances. "
"The Secretary shall not approve any project or take any regulatory action under this title that will result in the severance of an existing major route or have significant adverse impact on the safety for nonmotorized transportation traffic and light motorcycles, unless such project or regulatory action provides for a reasonable alternate route or such a route exists." 23 U.S.C. 109(m).
(Three bullet points under Recommended Action:)
"Considering walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes:
"Integrating bicycle and pedestrian accommodation on new, rehabilitated, and limited-access bridges: DOT encourages bicycle and pedestrian accommodation on bridge projects including facilities on limited-access bridges with connections to streets or paths."
"Improving nonmotorized facilities during maintenance projects: Many transportation agencies spend most of their transportation funding on maintenance rather than on constructing new facilities. Transportation agencies should find ways to make facility improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists during resurfacing and other maintenance projects. "
All of this sounds just like Obama and his power grabs, doesn't it? After next election, perhaps we can have a more sensible Secretary of Transportation and can be assured our money during these hard economic times is spent on actual highways rather than wasting it on bikeways, walkways, mass transit, rail, and greenways.
If you are wondering why Obama's administration is pushing so hard for the mass transportation, bikeways, and walkways, it is because they want to get us out of our automobiles and onto these other forms of transportation to save our planet from global warming. Driving up the price of gasoline and making it so expensive to travel by car is one way they intend to get us there. And Obama is marketing all of this through his plan of "rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges" through his so called jobs bill that is just another stimulus bill. I really don't want Arkansas to be an enabler in Obama's plan.
For a couple of articles that will give you more information about what people have in mind for our future highways, see the links below:
"What if we could make those highways beautiful...by using the corridors for more than moving cars and trucks/ What if we thought of them as the backbone of a new, more diverse 21st-century transportation system?...as more and more people go by bike, why not use the many acres of urban interstates to move human-powered vehicles?" From "Should highways be the new bikeways? http://bikeportland.org/2009/12/14/can-highways-be-the-new-bikeways-27065
But it’s time for us to look at the interstate system not as an aging network of highways in need of repair or replacement but instead as we might look at a navigable river...It encompasses a lot of land. Funds were appropriated at the outset for the purchase of two million acres; according to one estimate, the system actually takes up 40 acres per mile, or 1.87 million acres....This is not a radical idea. Obviously, the interstate, with its generous rights-of-way, is a prime spot for new rail lines, both high-speed intercity trains and commuter rail...And one more thing: say we reimagine the interstate system so that it becomes not just a route for cars and trucks but an intermodal-transportation-and-energy corridor. From "Rethinking the Interstate" http://www.metropolismag.com/story/20090121/rethinking-the-interstate