The Senate Budget passed last night, SB 257, contains a provision that would negatively impact the Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Grant program. Read the text of the provision here.
The provision appears to require municipalities to return planning funding if any project identified in the application for planning grant funds are not built within 6 years. As you know the transportation program implementation timeframe is long, so even if a community had the funding, implementing within 6 years can be a stretch. These plans can be long range, and it could take more than six years to get projects funded – what if it gets funded through Prioritization but the funding year is beyond the six-year window? Do they have to pay it back then?
It is important to note that in order for municipalities to get projects in the STIP/TIP for Prioritization, they need it to be in a plan somewhere. This could create a chilling effect for future planning applicants because they will be under the gun to get a project or projects implemented in an arbitrary timeframe. The point of the grant program was to get small towns to start thinking about bicycle and pedestrian planning and give them some direction; we all know that small towns lack the resources to do this type of work. Thus, small towns and rural areas would be affected disproportionately
This provision would damage the Bike and Pedestrian Planning Grant program because the specter of rescission would hang over the heads of these small communities (most of them that get the grant are small) and no one would want to apply any more.
If you participate in this grant program, have or may in the future, we will need your help in contacting House Representatives to remove this provision when the Senate Budget Bill comes to them for approval. Let us know your thoughts about this provision.