Federal & State Funding
The $787 billion “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” signed into law on February 17, 2009 by U.S. President Barack Obama will create green jobs. The economic recovery package contains $825 million in funding for Transportation Enhancements. Transportation Enhancements (TE) is the nation's largest federal funding source for trails, walking and bicycling and a long-standing program that has historically enjoyed bi-partisan support. Its place within the stimulus package, however, heralds a transition in thinking among elected leaders who once viewed active transportation projects as niceties. Conventional wisdom in Washington, DC has changed, and policy makers now know transportation projects to be necessities for a balanced transportation system and a robust economy.”
“Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), a nonprofit organization with more than 100,000 members and supporters, applauds Congress for its foresight in recognizing the job creation benefits of building bicycling and walking infrastructure, including trails. While representing less than two percent of transportation funding in the bill, this investment could create tens of thousands of jobs and critical active transportation connections that communities need. "We are very pleased with Congress for recognizing the wisdom of investing in active transportation," says Kevin Mills, RTC vice president of policy. "The immediate job creation will also deliver long-term benefits for communities by reducing traffic congestion, climate emissions, oil dependence and obesity rates." RTC documented this strategy and its implications in its "Active Transportation for America" report, released last October. According to the report, moderate investments in active transportation can yield substantial economic benefits, making bicycling and walking a highly cost-effective choice for policy-makers. "Americans are seeking opportunities to walk and bike more, and drive less, particularly for short trips," says Keith Laughlin, RTC president. "With this funding, more Americans will be able to make that choice." RTC will track the progress communities make in implementing hundreds of ready-to-go projects that will be aided by this recovery funding.”
In addition to the Transportation Enhancements, there is long list of green initiatives found in the President's stimulus package. The act specifically includes $7.22 billion for projects and programs administered by the EPA. These programs will protect and promote both green jobs and a healthier environment, Jackson said. Christina Romer, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, has estimated that the recovery package will save or create 3.5 million jobs over the next two years. Jackson says many of those will be jobs that protect and enhance public health and the environment. "EPA's portion of the plan will create good, sustainable jobs that help produce cleaner drinking water, purer air, environmentally friendly urban and rural re-development, and reduced greenhouse gases," said Jackson. "This is a perfect example of economic growth and environmental protection working hand in hand to the benefit of all Americans."
The Clean Water State Revolving Fund and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund will receive a total of $6 billion - of that total $4 billion will be used help communities with water quality and wastewater infrastructure needs and $2 billion will be spent on drinking water infrastructure needs. Of the total, $1.2 billion, or 20 percent, must be used for green infrastructure, such as storm water mitigation, water or energy efficiency improvements or other environmentally innovative activities. "This is an unprecedented amount of money for clean water and rivers," said Betsy Otto, vice president of strategic partnerships for the nonprofit organization American Rivers. "It's a real investment in more sustainable water infrastructure for the future, and it will boost health, safety and quality of life in communities across the country." "The clean water, drinking water, and river restoration provisions in the bill will create jobs, improve the nation's rivers and clean water supplies, and save communities money. This kind of investment represents a change, which will ensure that the nation is better prepared to meet the water challenges of the 21st Century. These provisions are a down payment on a better future and will improve the lives of all Americans."
The stimulus package contains $100 million for competitive grants to evaluate and clean up former industrial and commercial sites called brownfields. In addition, $27.5 billion is available for road and highway construction funds, much of which will be used to repair infrastructure and not on building new highways. The stimulus measure also contains $830 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a portion of which will be used for river restoration projects. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is to receive $115 million for priority construction, repair, habitat restoration and other activities on public lands the agency governs. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will also receive $165 million for priority critical deferred maintenance, capital improvements, habitat restoration and other activities on Service properties. The Natural Resources Conservation Service will get $290 million for structural and nonstructural watershed infrastructure improvements, including purchase and restoration of floodplain easements. Moreover, the U.S. Forest Service will receive $650 million for priority road, bridge and trail maintenance, including related watershed restoration and ecosystem enhancements projects.
Authored by Dr. Vincent Troia, January 2009.
Copyright © 2009 Ohio River Trail Council