Dear Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader McCarthy and Minority Leader Schumer:
The COVID-19 pandemic crisis is one of the biggest challenges our nation has ever faced. It is eroding our public health and our economy at levels not seen in decades. As we work to brighten the light at the end of this tunnel, we need to act in a way that addresses both key dimensions of the crisis.
Relief through support for health workers and the millions of people who lost their jobs has been key. Now our nation needs to make the infrastructure investments that lead us to strong economic recovery and a healthy future.
Expanding highways doesn't do it. The public is already showing us a path that does. People are using greenways and trails across the country more than ever as they strive to maintain their mental and physical health. Greenways have clearly gone from novelty to necessity. In fact, a recent NYU study found that obesity was the leading chronic factor to COVID-19 hospitalization.
There has never been a more critical moment for our nation to invest in regional trails and greenways. Greenway infrastructure investment has the highest return for our economy in terms of jobs and for our community in terms of health, environmental sustainability and economic growth. Recent studies along the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway from Maine to Florida, which already hosts over 35 million walks, runs and bike rides per year, show a more than ten-fold return. And it is not alone. Greenway networks in metropolitan areas such as Detroit, Memphis, St Louis, the Bay Area and Northwest Arkansas are benefiting their public health and economies.
We applaud the $25 billion in emergency operating assistance for transit that has been provided. We now need to provide $25 billion to support safe active transportation through greenways and trails that connect all 50 states across America from our biggest cities to our smallest towns, from our cultural heritage corridors to our wild national parks. The resulting people-first transportation network could generate $250 billion in return for all to enjoy.
Such visionary investment would get us out of our crisis in a way that transforms our country into better health, a stronger economy and a cleaner environment. The public wants it. The public needs it. And you have the power to make it possible.
To a healthy recovery for all,
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