Regional leaders are hinting that it might be time to stop dedicating a key funding source to biking and walking projects. And advocates are not taking it lightly.
The discussion is centered around what is known as the regional flexible funding allocation, a pot of money Metro gets from the federal government and then hands out to cities and counties. In the next round of allocations for 2019-2021, $38 million (out of a total of $125 million) is set-aside specifically for infrastructure. (The rest goes to transit bond payments ($48 million) and region-wide planning and program investments ($28 million). There’s another $11 million that might be available for infrastructure but that’s not decided yet).
Unlike the vast majority of transportation dollars (gas tax and other mode-specific loan and grant programs), local governments can spend flexible funds however they want — which means something other than highway widening, rail transit or bridge upgrades. That makes flexible funds extremely competitive. In the past, Metro has chosen to invest these funds into two categories: freight and biking/walking (a.k.a. active transportation).