Tuesday, August 25 2009 @ 09:53 AM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
State Senator Creigh Deeds and River ‘Car Less Brit‘ Laker discuss mass transit, intermodal (roads-to-rails) and urban bike culture
By 2010, all federal and state transportation dollars will be needed to maintain our crumbling highways and closed rest areas leaving precious few funds for transportation improvements elsewhere in the Commonwealth. In fact, the Commonwealth may actually lose federal dollars because the General Assembly can’t provide required matching funds.
Both candidates for governor tout Virginia as the best place in the United States to do business and yet portions of the state’s transportation infrastructure are rapidly deteriorating and agencies lack funding necessary to attract new industry.
For example, Maersk Sealand, which just built a new container terminal on Craney Island in Portsmouth, needs help to increase road or rail capacity to serve the total build-out planned by Maersk. But Virginia cannot offer that help.
Last month, we sent 8 very specific questions regarding the sorry state of Virginia’s transportation infrastructure to both campaigns.
Until last weekend, we had not heard from either campaign; however, during a whirlwind tour through the Roanoke and New River Valleys on Saturday, State Senator Deeds gave SCH’s foreign correspondent River ‘Car Less Brit’ Laker about 10 minutes of face-time to address some of our transportation questions.
Why do conservatives loathe bikes and public transit?
Rush Limbaugh says, “Frankly, if the door opens into a bicycle rider I won’t care. I think they ought to be off the streets[.]”
The Virginia Bicycling Federation has called Congressman Eric Cantor on the carpet for his vehement opposition to bike-ped: “Cantor also added the expansion of the Smart Bike program- the first bike-sharing system of its kind in North America- as an additional example of wasteful stimulus spending” (source: LAB).
And FoxNews reports that Congressional Republicans have taken aim at funding in the Recovery Act specifically earmarked for alternative transportation, including increased bike paths as part of the Safe Routes to School program.
To his credit, and given the immense popularity of the Roanoke Valley Greenway system, Representative Bob Goodlatte has broken with Congressional conservatives to provide additional funding to complete the Roanoke River Greenway.
The League of American Bicyclists has reported that
It has been proven that dollar for dollar, bike infrastructure has a higher return on investment than road expansion. In fact, for every $1 million invested in an FHWA-approved paved bicycle or multi-use trail, the local economy gains 65 jobs. The modest expansion of the Smart Bike system will not only reduce co2 emissions by 1.5 tons every day (based on current usage rates), it will stimulate job growth. In addition to the numerous construction jobs created, the system expansion will not only create 20 new full-time jobs, they’ll also be green jobs that contribute to a healthier, more environmentally sound Washington. Another tourist-heavy area saw a 9 to 1 return on its investment in bike related infrastructure.
Deeds: Investments in our transportation infrastructure, from bike paths to intermodal (road to rail), make economic sense