Recently, Congress passed, and, President Obama signed, MAP-21, a 27-month, $118 billion surface transportation bill. The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) believes that Congressional efforts to pass a bi-partisan long-term transportation bill should be applauded. However, the final surface transportation reauthorization bill signed by the President significantly scales back three vital programs that are major contributors to communities’ economic growth: Transportation Enhancements (TE), Safe Routes To School, and Recreational Trails.
“Active transportation programs have been unfairly targeted for cuts in this bill. Scaling back these critical programs will have a chilling effect on the landscape architecture profession and will likely cripple the ability of communities across the country to meet the demand for these innovative projects,” said ASLA Executive Vice President Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA.
Unlike large highway projects that are built by large construction firms, most active transportation projects are planned, designed, and built by small local businesses, including small landscape architecture firms. Cutting or reducing federal active transportation programs would directly impact these small firms and the other small businesses working on these projects.
These programs have a proven track record of generating job growth and economic development at the local level. In fact, a recent study conducted by the Political Economy Research Institute found that for each $1 million spent on bike lanes, approximately 14 jobs are created. Compare this to only 7 jobs created for every $1 million spent on road repair work. Increasingly, rural communities and small towns are accessing federal active transportation programs to attract businesses and tourism and retain much-needed workers.
The conclusion is simple: Cuts to the TE program and other active transportation programs will hurt American small businesses, workers, and communities. ASLA strongly urges Congress to restore robust Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes To School, and Recreational Trails programs that can meet the pent-up demand for these active transportation projects, create jobs for landscape architects and other small businesses, and provide economic benefits to communities across the country.
The transportation bill will take effect on October 1, 2012. In the fall of 2012 ASLA will conduct a training webinar that will highlight key changes to transportation programs relevant to landscape architects. The training will arm practitioners with the information they need to ensure that their states provide access to federal funds used to plan and design active transportation projects. Stay tuned to this blog, and other ASLA channels, for more information.
ASLA’s preliminary analysis of the conference report
For more information on ASLA’s transportation priorities www.asla.org/advocacy