H.R. 2609 has been introduced in Congress, the bill would eliminate the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) —the largest dedicated source of funding for Safe Routes to School and walking and biking infrastructure in America. H.R. 2609 could be offered as an amendment to a transportation funding bill that the US House is considering today. TAP helps create sidewalks, safe crossings, bike lanes, trails, and more, helping thousands of Idahoans get where they need to go independently and safely.
According to a recent survey, the #1 reason more Idahoans don’t walk or bike to everyday destinations is safety – they don’t feel safe walking or biking in their communities. The TAP program has enabled those Idaho communities to invest in walking and biking facilities where people do feel safe. It is no coincidence that these are the same communities becoming more economically vibrant and more likely to attract young entrepreneurs.
The Idaho Transportation Department embraced the TAP program with a decision to fully fund it when it was first approved by the U.S. Congress in 2013. ITD’s Bike Pedestrian Coordinator noted at the time “We received 89 letters of interest, which is more than we expected. We consider the program a huge success.”
Of those 89 inquiries, sixty-four Idaho communities were judged to have projects eligible for the program, with application requests for over $14.5 million. With only $3.3 million available, the requests totaled over 400% of the funding appropriated. Twenty–three of those communities received funding and forty-one communities’ needs went unmet. The following year there were eligible requests totaling more than 250% the funding appropriated. Again many communities had needs that couldn’t be funded.
The TAP program has high demand by Idaho communities! If TAP is eliminated, Idahoans will lose the funding they need to make wise investments in active-transportation options that 77% of them say they want. Options that create healthier neighborhoods, provide transportation choices and boost local economies at a fraction of the cost of car-only transportation infrastructure.
Please tell Idaho’s representatives that this program is cost-effective and in demand and ask them to oppose the bill to eliminate TAP.