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Blumenauer legislation would create $2 billion active transportation fund

Posted by on March 2nd, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Family biking-3

More money for more of this.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Congressman Earl Blumenauer has introduced new legislation that will create a $2 billion competitive grant program for communities to promote eco-friendly transportation options. The bill, which we first reported on back in December, is now known officially as the Active Community Transportation Act of 2010.

In a statement about the ACT Act, Blumenauer said,

“Too often we take for granted the value of being able to bike and walk to work. It’s unfortunate that many communities don’t have the infrastructure in place to make active and healthy forms of transportation more accessible. The ACT transportation grants will make it easier for people to get out of their vehicles and onto sidewalks or bikes, boosting both heart rates and community vitality.”

The announcement comes just one week before the National Bike Summit kicks off in Washington D.C. Blumenauer, who’s already the Chair of a the Livable Communities Task Force, will surely mention this bill in his annual keynote speech at the opening plenary.

This new program would be administered by the US DOT. A fact sheet about the bill says that the program would authorize an average of $400 million per year for the next five years. That amount is less than one half of one percent of the total expected cost of the upcoming authorization of a new transportation bill.

There will be two grant application rounds for the ACT Act. The first will take place 180 days after the passage of the bill. Communities that win grants will receive annual grants ranging from $5 million to $15 million for five years. A second application round will be held two years after the passage of the bill, with qualifying communities receiving grants from $5 million to $15 million for three years.

A letter of support has been signed by a myriad of national organizations and two dozen mayors and other elected officials including Portland Mayor Sam Adams, Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy, Metro President David Bragdon and many others.

Download an FAQ on the ACT Act.

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  • Nick V March 2, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Go Earl, Go!

    Unrelated, but it’s odd seeing an ad directly underneath the article urging me to stop “Obamacare”. What would Earl think?

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  • Daniel Ronan March 2, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    This is great news. This may already exist, but wouldn’t it also be awesome if there was some kind of program that gave states more money for non-highway projects if they refused to build any more highway miles? Maybe for the period of time within the reauthorization? That would count Oregon out though with the state funding of the Newberg-Dundee bypass.

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  • Bob March 2, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Good effort, but does anyone think this will actually pass in this Congress?

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  • q`Tzal March 2, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    This will be great if enacted.
    Granted, it’s difficult to pin down ODOT or PBOT on funding for pedestrian and cycling improvement but do we really expect to see significant funding once in this total is divided up amongst the whole nation?
    This will do more good for other areas where funding is non-existent.
    I hope that this will help Oregon without causing a redistribution of current funding for pedestrian and cycling projects.

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  • are March 2, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    text of the bill not posted to blumenauer’s site, but is available at

    the DOT would be making grants of five million to fifteen million per fiscal year, per project, for three to five years. grant amounts in the higher ranges would be justified by “population served, greater opportunities to shift trips to bicycling and walking, or use of innovative design features.”

    permitted uses of grant money would include building sidewalks, “bikeways,” trails, bike boxes, cycle tracks, bike boulevards, dual traffic signals, and bike “sharing” stations, restoring and upgrading existing bike/ped infrastructure, and carrying out educational or “safety-oriented” activities.

    also something called “technical assistance” to further “the purpose” (singular) of “the program,” apparently meaning the ACT, which appears to be an opportunity for nonprofits to get paid to do some consulting work.

    DOT is supposed to follow up, gathering data on changes in mode share and health and safety impacts.

    the funding is from the highway trust fund, “other than the mass transit account” (so in theory this project would not be sucking funds from mass transit). three hundred million a year for the first two years, translates to somewhere between twenty-five and sixty grants. 466.67 million in each of the following three years, through 2015. one point five pct. set aside for administrative costs.

    incidentally, the four communities already awarded pilot grants under safetea-lu are permitted to apply. these are columbia, missouri, marin county, california, minneapolis-st. paul, minnesota, and sheboygan county, wisconsin.

    no local matching funds required (weirdly, the draft legislation actually says the federal share “shall be” one hundred pct., which almost seems to suggest that local matching is not permitted).

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  • joe adamski March 2, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    In Portland, and NYC and SF, and some major cities as well as smaller ones, there is awareness of the need. Its the Congress members from Kansas and Minnesota and Texas that need to feel the pressure from their constituancies to get behind this. It seems this is a jobs program that will keep giving long after projects are completed, but in all honesty, I can’t see it going anywhere. Until daily life is severly impacted by either congestion or the cost of transportation, it will be business as usual. Then there will be a clamor to ‘do something’. There probably is more support to give corporations a $20B tax cut.

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  • Melissa March 2, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Good for Earl!

    I thought the Obamacare add was funny. The 4 wheeler add on the webpage beneath the how to bike post was funier. Guess someone got bills to pay.

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  • Joe Rowe March 2, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    One good step forward. $2 billion is far too small. We could easily afford $20 billion if Earl had done his duty and mentioned the word impeachment when a $200 billion war was started on lies of WMD. Earl’s going to his grave with that silence on his soul. I wonder if he will ever regret taking off the table the one tool that would have worked? Or will he just celebrate these little gains?

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  • Mike March 3, 2010 at 6:00 am

    Wow Joe. Earl was one of the few congresspersons who didn’t vote for the Iraq war and the Patriot Act and you’re still scolding him for nor completely isolating himself from the political picture and calling for an impeachment that had no backing. Do you think the majority of his constituents were for impeachment?? No. It was a small minority that for some reason felt he should only listen to them. I know this isn’t the appropriate forum for this discussion, but if Joe is going to throw that out I have to say something.

    I think the bill is a great idea and a great starts. Programs like these could definitely use more money and hopefully piece of the pie set aside for these projects will get bigger in the coming years.

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  • rwl1776 March 3, 2010 at 9:21 am

    If only Earl had not advocated for CLOSING 110+ miles of ‘some of the best singletrack in the universe’ (BIKE magazine, July 2004), I would take Earl seriously as being a ‘bike friendly’ elected official.

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  • are March 3, 2010 at 11:57 am

    what on earth does singletrack have to do with transportation

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  • Dave Thomson March 3, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    are #11 +1

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  • Joe Rowe March 3, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    I think the 12 comments here all agree this program could use more money. Mike seems to speak for everyone in Earl’s district. Mike, is there a survey somewhere to support your claim, or are you just throwing out baseless attacks? Should we applaud a security guard (Earl) who used toothless tactics? I say no.

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  • Mike March 9, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    I definitely agree that the program could use more money as well. I don’t feel the need to use facts when you’re just throwing out extreme-left propaganda.

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