Below is a press release from Fort Wayne about its push for better cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, the key component of which is a federal request for a fifty million dollar appropriation. On the one hand I’m pleased with Michiana’s recent progress, but seeing this does make me wonder if we, as a community, are thinking “big” enough?
Oct. 20, 2008
Fort Wayne, Ind. – Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry called on federal leaders today to appropriate $50 million for Fort Wayne-area trails and other infrastructure projects that will make the area more friendly for pedestrians and bicyclists alike, while improving access to mass transit.
The City of Fort Wayne in cooperation with Allen County, the City of New Haven and Citilink are part of the Rails to Trails Conservancy’s 2010 Campaign for Active Transportation. It asks Congress to expand a pilot federal program, which funded multimodal infrastructure improvements in four communities, as part of the 2010 federal transportation funding bill.
“The federal government has been instrumental over the past 50 years in expanding and maintaining car-based infrastructure, which has been critical in economic development for our community,” said Mayor Tom Henry. “As more people are using their feet, bicycles and public transportation to get around town, local communities like ours need federal dollars to help build multiuse trails, sidewalks, paths and bike lanes that connect people to their destinations. Federal funding is critical for transportation systems that enhance quality of life and serve as a foundation for high-tech economic development.”
To put $50 million in perspective, that’s the cost of a single mile of a four-lane urban highway. That same amount could fund hundreds of miles of a multimodal transportation network for Fort Wayne, Allen County and New Haven.
Fort Wayne, Allen County and New Haven are one of 42 communities participating in the campaign. The other Indiana location is Indianapolis. The plan calls for a $5 million, 10 percent, local match.
Today’s news conference was part of events across the country calling on federal leaders to invest in active transportation that can enhance individuals’ mobility, spur economic development, reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and increase opportunities for health and fitness.
“If we are to continue to extend our trails, sidewalks, multi-use trails and bike lanes, federal funding will be needed. We have made great progress in providing alternative transportation connectivity in New Haven, Fort Wayne and Allen County,” said New Haven Mayor Terry McDonald. “With increased usership each year, our experience in New Haven with our portion of the River Greenway has been a tremendous success!”
Fort Wayne authored a case statement that highlights recent successes in trail development, including the doubling of trail mileage from 20 miles to more than 40 in just over three years, as well as plans for new bike and pedestrian routes. A copy of the case statement is available at [the link was not provided in the press release].
Additional construction of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure can reduce reliance on automobiles, improve access to and use of mass transit and increase exercise and activity levels of Allen County citizens.
“The trails that have been built in Allen County continue to benefit our community’s health, economy and recreational opportunities,” said County Commissioner Linda Bloom. “The importance of trails to our future infrastructure is evident in our 2030 Transportation Plan and we hope federal leaders will recognize this and provide funding so we can continue to build out these systems.”
Local residents have expressed a desire for more bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure while Citilink bus ridership increased this summer. In the 25 public workshops for the Plan-It Allen comprehensive land use plan, more trails and sidewalks was one of the top three requests.
The City’s bicycle use survey, which launched earlier this month, has received more than 900 responses. The online version of the survey is available at www.cityoffortwayne.org/bikeusesurvey through Nov. 17.
The 2010 Campaign for Active Transportation is an expansion of the SmartMobility pilot program that allocated $25 million in 2006 through 2009 for each of four communities – Columbia, Mo., Marin County, Calif., Minneapolis and Sheboygan County, Wisc. – to expand non-motorized infrastructure and public transit use. For more information about the national campaign, visit www.railstotrails.org/2010.
Source: City of Fort Wayne