Thursday, June 7, 2007

Untangling the Safe Routes to School bill

After a little more research and e-mail exchange and phone call with Wendy Landman, the Executive Director of WalkBoston, here's what I understand about Rep. Kay Khan's Safe Routes to School (SRTS) bill (H. 3539):

  • The language calling for the formation of the already existing SRTS program is a legacy of the first version of the bill, which predated the creation of Massachusetts SRTS program. It won't have any effect.
  • The key provision of the bill is section (c), which instructs the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (DOT) to use federal highway money, beyond the $11,433,458 earmarked for Massachussets through SRTS through 2009 for infrastructure projects that meet the SRTS goals.
  • The bill instructs the DOT to allocate money from the federal Hazard Elimination Program (HEP). The HEP program has been replaced by the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP). States can use HSIP funds for projects that improve pedestrian and bicycle safety, so the HSIP and SRTS project eligibility overlap.
  • The bill sets no specific requirements or targets for DOT to meet in its allocation of HSIP funds for SRTS or SRTS-like projects.
  • There will be important work to do to figure out the mechanism to coordinate SRTS projects for HSIP funding.
All-in-all, this is a substantial effort on the part of Rep. Khan and her co-sponsors to make more money available for pedestrian and bicycle safety, particularly around our schools.

Write your representative to support the bill. Write also to the members of the state Transportation Committee. And, write to the Secretary of Transportation Bernard Cohen.

Safe(r) Routes to School?

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