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Transportation bill presents potential 'triple whammy'

By Kevin Miller This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Washington bureau chief

Advocates for making Maine friendlier for cyclists and walkers are expressing concerns about federal funding cuts to programs that communities often use to pay for bike lanes, crosswalks and road safety programs aimed at schoolchildren.

But the Maine Department of Transportation is dismissing some of the worst-case scenarios being discussed, saying it's too early to tell precisely how the federal cuts could affect the state's bicycle and pedestrian safety programs.

President Obama is expected to sign the first multi-year transportation funding bill since 2009 in a ceremony today, roughly one week after Congress approved the $120 billion spending plan.

The bill maintains overall funding levels for the next 27 months, but cuts funding for bike and pedestrian safety programs by about 30 percent.

The bill maintains overall funding levels for the next 27 months, but cuts funding for bike and pedestrian safety programs by about 30 percent.

Dan Stewart, right, bicycle and pedestrian program manager for the Maine Department of Transportation, leads cyclists over the Eastern Trail bridge at Scarborough Marsh last summer.

Dan Stewart, right, bicycle and pedestrian program manager for the Maine Department of Transportation, leads cyclists over the Eastern Trail bridge at Scarborough Marsh last summer.
Stewart said it is premature to say how state programs will be affected by cuts proposed in a new $120 billion federal transportation plan.

The bill also makes money available for additional types of non-highway projects and gives states more discretion in spending, allowing them to divert money intended for bicycle or pedestrian projects to other transportation needs.

The result, says the head of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, is a potential "triple-whammy" to projects aimed at making Maine more bike- and pedestrian-friendly.

Read the full article on-line here

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