Oct 05

BCA ACTION ALERT!

 

Help Anchorage become a more walkable and bikeable city! We need YOU to ask the AMATS Technical Advisory Committee to raise funding levels for bicycle and pedestrian projects in 2013 and 2014!  Send your comments no later than October 10!

 

TAKE ACTION TODAY TO INCREASE FUNDING FOR BIKE AND PEDESTRIAN INFRASTRUCTURE:

 

  • Send your request for increased bike/pedestrian funding to AMATS coordinator Craig Lyon atamatsinfo@muni.org no later than October 10.  While the deadline for comments is officially October 23, you need to speak out early, as work will continue on the draft allocation throughout this period. Let AMATS know that you want more bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in Anchorage.

 

  • Mark your calendars, and if possible attend the AMATS Technical Advisory Committee Meeting on Thursday, October 11, at 2:30 pm.  This public meeting will be held in the Conference/Training room of the Anchorage Development Services Center, 4700 Elmore Road.  Despite the open comment period, at this meeting, the committee plans to “Finalize draft TIP – forward to Assembly for comments.”

 

We need to speak up now! If we don’t raise our voice and demand increased funding for bike/ped projects, our city will not become a safer and more practical place to bike and walk. 

 

If you want specific details on the AMATS process, read below:

 

Background:  Hundreds of people spent thousands of hours working with the municipality to develop the Anchorage Pedestrian Plan in 2007 and Anchorage Bicycle Plan in 2010.  These plans analyzed Anchorage’s existing pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure, identified new infrastructure needs, prioritized them, and estimated costs.  Our challenge now is get funding for implementation. Plans sitting on shelves will not make our city more bicycle and pedestrian friendly.

 

A major source of funding for pedestrian and bicycle projects comes via the distribution of federal transportation funding by the Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transportation Solutions (AMATS) committee.  Among other things, AMATS allocates the federal transportation funding that the municipality receives each year between “roadway improvements,” “pavement replacement,” and “transportation enhancements.”  Transportation Enhancement (TE) funding pays for bicycle, pedestrian, and landscaping projects.

 

While AMATS funding levels are significant (e.g. $37 million in 2011, $36 million in 2012), Anchorage’s list of transportation needs dwarf these numbers.  The annual allocation of funding between road and non-road projects is somewhat simplified by AMATS policy:  Non-road  (TE) projects should receive 10-15% of the total AMATS allocation when averaged over the four years.

 

Why the need for action?  AMATS has just released its draft “TIP Major Amendment #4” for public comment.  Due to the new Federal transportation bill (MAP-21) that took effect earlier this week, this TIP amendment has lowered the expected AMATS funding levels for 2013 and 2014 and recommended new allocations for road and non-road projects.  Here’s the numbers (in $ millions) and percentages:

 

  2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Total AMATS $ $29.3 $22.9 $21.0 $34.4 $37.5 $36.3 $25.0 $25.0
Bike/Ped (TE)$ $1.8 $3.3 $2.1 $3.5M $4.6M $6.4 $1.0 $1.5
Bike/Ped (TE)% 6.2% 14.5% 10.0% 10.2% 12.2% 17.6% 4.0% 6.0%

 

The AMATS committee does not have control over total funding levels.  Annual funding levels for all transportation projects in 2013 and 2014 is expected to be about $10 million less than the previous 3 years.  What the AMATS committee does have control over is the relative allocation between road and non-road projects.  The proposal on the table proposes not only the lowest funding level for bike and pedestrian projects since 2007, but also the lowest percentage of total funds to be allocated to pedestrian and bicycle projects since 2007.   We need to do better!

 

What we are seeking - In light of reduced Federal transportation funding and the relatively recent completion of Anchorage Pedestrian Plans, the percentage of funds dedicated to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure (TE) should be significantly increased, not decreased, compared to previous years.   Biking and walking are real transportation alternatives.  Facilities needed to enhance walking and biking in Anchorage are modest in scope and cost when compared with those needed for cars. AMATS Transportation Enhancement funding should increased to at least $3 million in 2013 and 2014, which would represent 12.8% of total AMATS funding for those years.  This funding should be split between the high priority projects in the Pedestrian and Bicycle Plans.  Among other things, these funding levels would allow the completion of bike lane striping and signage on core routes of the Anchorage Bicycle Plan by the end of 2014.

 

 

Finally, it’s not all bad news.  A few things to note:

  • While we believe that the bike and pedestrian funding levels are too low in 2013 and 2014, they are earmarked for “Bike Plan Project Implementation” ($1M in 2013), “Pedestrian Plan Project Implementation”, ($1M in 2014), and “Area-wide Trails Rehabilitation” ($500K in 2014).  In many previous years, TE funding has often been consumed by one mega-project.   This targeted funding for plan implementation is a positive development.
  • Many “roadway improvement” projects include bicycle and pedestrian amenities as part of the roadway project.  These improvements are not charged against the dedicated bicycle/pedestrian (TE) funding.  Current examples of major bike/pedestrian amenities included in “roadway improvement” projects include the Seward Highway bridge replacement (which will also eliminate the final missing link on the Campbell Creek trail) and the construction of the Dowling Road connector between Old Seward and C streets (which will include bike lanes and a multi-use path). Thus, bike and pedestrian facilities are also being improved using “roadway improvement” funding.
  • The proposed allocation does comply with AMATS allocation policy.  The 4-year percentage (2011 – 2014) allocated to bike/pedestrian projects is 10.9% due to the better than average allocation levels in 2011 and 2012.  AMATS policy calls for 10% to 15% when averaged over 4 years.

 

Need more information?  Contact BCA volunteer Todd Logan at tjloganak@gmail.com.

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