Representative Lummis -
Friends of Pathways is a non-profit organization focused on supporting a vibrant community by advocating the completion of a safe and sustainable pathways system for healthy recreation and transportation opportunities in Jackson Hole. We are writing to ask that you vote No on H.R. 7, the House transportation funding bill that cuts all designated funding for bike and pedestrian infrastructure, the Safe Routes to School program, and grants that have encouraged “complete streets” projects.
At a time when more Teton County and Wyoming residents and communities are recognizing the economic, environmental and health/wellness benefits of biking and walking, H.R. 7 seems determined to stuff people back into their cars and return local community transportation choices back to the dark ages of highways, highways, or highways.
Since 1992, the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program has funded 357 enhancement projects in Wyoming to the tune of more than $72 million (See attached for the list.) These are sidewalks, non-motorized pathways, heritage museums, downtown beautification projects, landscaping... all projects that improve the quality of life for Wyomingites in Teton County and in towns across the state. These enhancement projects also make our towns more attractive to visitors and new business.
In Teton County, TE has made possible 11 projects that are used by thousands of residents and visitors everyday. Most recently, TE funded the 4.2 miles of the N. 89 pathway from the Interagency Visitor Center to the Grand Teton National Park sign and the underpass to the National Wildlife Art Museum. This project is a great example of how TE has a direct impact on our economy, not only in the jobs it generates but also in the level of visitor/tourist experience we provide to keep Teton County a top destination in the highly competitive travel and tourism industry.
Given Jackson and Teton County’s outdoor destination economy and active residents, you might be surprised to learn that Teton County has had among the fewest amount of projects and dollars of the 357 Transportation Enhancement projects in the state. From Torrington’s downtown beautification project, Buffalo’s Clear Creek trail system construction, Sheridan’s airport pathway, and Rock Springs’ M Street underpass project, TE has had huge impacts on Wyoming communities.
As well, a recent report by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) found that under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Transportation Enhancement projects generated the most transportation jobs, with approximately 17 jobs for every $1 million dollars spent. While other transportation projects like road paving and traffic management projects generated the least number of jobs – approximately 9-10.
Finally, H.R. 7 makes streets more dangerous for kids. By repealing the successful and effective Safe Routes to School program, the House bill makes the streets more dangerous for kids on their walks and bike rides to school.
At a time when Teton County and Wyoming are working hard to attract new visitors, jobs, and business to the state, it’s hard to find any language in H.R. 7 that is aligned with those goals. Please vote No on H.R. 7. It’s bad for bike/ped, bad for Teton County, and bad for Wyoming.
Thanks for your time and consideration of this important issue.