Thursday, April 30, 2009

Transportation Financing: Not just for roads anymore

Minneapolis has finally arrived. According to Forbes Traveler(dot)com, Minneapolis now has ranking within North America’s most bike-friendly cities. How did this happen? Did someone pass the helmet?

Sort of.

Recently, Bike Walk Twin Cities, won part a federal grant for over 21 million dollars for building new bike lanes, safer crosswalks and other improvements make it easier to walk and bike in and around Minneapolis.

According to the Mayor’s Office, Bike/Walk Twin Cities is part of a national Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Project administered by Transit for Livable Communities in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT). The program is part of a four-year, $21.5 million initiative in four states that was backed by Congressman Oberstar in the 2005 federal transportation bill, SAFETEA-LU.

Another boost to Minneapolis’ bike-friendliness is of course the Martin Sabo bicycle bridge that raises bicyclists above the LRT line and busy Highway 55 and completed the Midtown Greenway, in 2007. Hennepin County built the bridge with about $3 million in federal funds and $2.2 million of its own money.

However, not everyone is as keen on spending money on bicycle as Minneapolis is. A more recent blog entry on Twin Cities Streets tells of Senator DeMint’s (R-SC) stimulus amendment to prohibit bicycle funding. DeMint’s efforts didn’t work though. In a recent article, C.I.C.L.E projects from $700-$900 million in extra spending on bicycle-related projects.

The key is that individual state departments of transportation have the final say how stimulus money is spent. With that, Minneapolis has the potential of taking over the number one Seattle as the Nation’s most bike-friendly city.

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