Inspiring infrastructure investment and climate change policy: Our role

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Future Greenway under construction in Neptune Beach, Florida, in early 2020.

By Niles Barnes Deputy Director, East Coast Greenway Alliance

In 2019, over $250 million was invested in the land acquisition, planning, design and construction of East Coast Greenway trail segments between Maine and Florida. Taken together, this is the largest investment in a single year in the history of the project. We have partners at the federal, state and local levels to thank for this breakout level of support. 

In 2020, we are working at all three levels once again to accelerate Greenway investment and development. As many know, transportation is the largest source of emissions now. Through developing the Greenway, we have an opportunity and role to play in helping tackle the challenge of growing emissions. 

At the federal level, the East Coast Greenway is a partner on the Connecting America’s Active Transportation System Act along with Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. Rep. Chris Pappas (NH-1), a Greenway supporter, is helping lead the effort in the House. The bill would provide $500 million per year to fund planning, design and construction of active transportation networks to connect destinations within communities and to link communities and states together. Read more about the bill

We’re also engaging the House Transportation & Infrastructure committee and its “Moving Forward Framework,” a five-year, $760 billion framework for rebuilding the nation’s highways, airports and other infrastructure. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), one of the leaders who developed the plan, calls it a "definitive departure from our last 70 years, since Eisenhower." Features include $329 billion for investment in transportation systems, including improving safety measures for bicyclists and pedestrians, $105 billion to transit agencies, and $55 billion for improving and expanding railways nationwide. Beyond traditional roads-and-bridges infrastructure, $86 billion will go toward expanding broadband access. With additional funds for clean water preservation and toxic chemical cleanups, the public transit-focused bill is aimed at "defossiliz[ing] transportation" and meeting "the goals of the Green New Deal," DeFazio says. 

Read New York TImes coverage of Moving Forward Framework

Read Transportation for America’s look at Moving Forward Framework. 

Regionally, the Greenway is actively involved in the Transportation and Climate Initiative , a multi-state plan covering the New England and Mid-Atlantic states to institute a cap on transportation emissions and invest funding into clean transportation solutions. If the goals of the initiative are realized, it could generate billions of dollars in funding for sustainable transportation investments including biking and walking trails.

Want to help? We urge Greenway supporters to provide comments through the TCI comment portal.

Learn more through this overview from our partners at Transportation for Massachusetts (T4MA), including the draft agreement among the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states (and DC), potential benefits, and next steps. 

Watch TCI video 

 

Read more of our February 2020 On the Greenway newsletter

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