Gov. Walker axes bike/ped funds from budget
Wisconsin's allocation of state transportation dollars for bicycle and pedestrian paths was short-lived. Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal eliminated $2.5 million that had been dedicated to bike and pedestrian projects annually. The allocation of gas tax and other transportation revenue was included in the 2009-11 budget.
Overall, the state dollars were a small portion of the money available to add bike trails and make street improvements to assist pedestrians. Federal grants through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program has totaled more than $140 million over the past 12 years. Transportation Enhancement awards also provided millions for similar projects.
The future of those funds are uncertain also, depending on the reauthorization of the federal transportation bill.
In a pre-election interview, Walker offered qualified support for bike paths and the use of federal dollars to improve them: "I don't have a problem with it as long as it doesn't take away from fixing existing infrastructure," Walker said. "If we fix the crumbling roads and bridges, then I'm willing to look at other things, like bike paths."
Kevin Hardman, executive director of the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, said advocates would work to convince legislators to restore the money. "We think this jeopardizes future projects and jeopardizes projects that already have been awarded federally money," Hardman said. "An investment in cycling gives Wisconsin an incredibly high return."
He encouraged supporters to sign up to join the lobbying effort at the Bike Summit on April 19.
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