it easier to push Safe Routes projects
through.(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
One key set of reforms Republicans fought for in the transportation bill was to ease environmental and other regulations in order to hasten project delivery. For active transportation and environmental advocates, this is a scary thought because it conjures up images of massive new highways and bridges running roughshod over wetlands, natural areas, and sustainable planning practices. While the project delivery provisions in the new bill are not as earth-friendly as those advocates had hoped, they could end up being a boon for bicycling — especially for projects carried out as part of the Safe Routes to School program.
From early on, House Republicans made it clear that cutting back on red tape and regulations on big highway projects was a top priority. Back in February 2011, when House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chair John Mica (R-FL) held a "listening session" in Vancouver, he got an earful from state DOT and public works staff about "extremely onerous" regulations holding up their projects.