FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JULY 21, 2003
CONTACT: Rails-to-Trails Conservancy ( http://www.railtrails.org/)
Karen Stewart 212-362-7272
WASHINGTON - July 21 - The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations will soon vote on legislation that threatens trail-building efforts across the country. The nonprofit Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) is conducting a nationwide campaign to combat what could be a potentially devastating loss for local communities seeking federal funding for trails and greenways.
The Transportation Enhancements (TE) program - responsible for nearly $3 billion in support of rail-trails and other bicycle and pedestrian facilities nationwide since 1991 - came under attack July 11 when the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury and Independent Agencies voted to eliminate all funding for the popular program. A full committee vote tentatively scheduled for this evening has been cancelled, but a rescheduled vote could take place as early as Tuesday, July 22.
"We put the word out among our 100,000 members and started working with trail activists across the country as soon as this threat became apparent," said RTC president Keith Laughlin. "It is a big mistake to underestimate local support for trails. Public response against this measure has been overwhelming, and RTC will continue to inform Congress and the public about this short-sighted provision that would harm trail projects everywhere."
Transportation Enhancements fund eligible activities that include pedestrian and bicycle facilities; scenic or historic highway programs; historic preservation; and preservation of abandoned railway corridors and conversion of unused railroad corridors to trails. Approximately $300 million each year is provided to rail-trail, bicycle and pedestrian projects throughout the country. All 50 states have least one open rail-trail, as well as trail projects in process that could be jeopardized if the TE program is eliminated.
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, through a partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, maintains comprehensive databases on Transportation Enhancement spending practices for each state. For more information visit Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's Web site.
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is the nation's largest trails organization dedicated to connecting people and communities by creating a nationwide network of public tails, many from former rail lines and connecting corridors. Founded in 1986, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is located in Washington, D.C., and has field offices in California, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.