Support continues to grow for the Virginia Bicycling Federation’s rails with trails efforts. The VBF and 31 other organizations are calling for the inclusion of bike and pedestrian facilities on future rail upgrade, enhancement and improvement projects throughout Virginia and the United States.
Six more organizations representing wide-ranging interests have signed on to support the VBF’s Rails With Trails Resolution presented to Virginia Governor Tim Kaine on May 1.
Among the groups adding their support are the Virginia Association for Parks, the Float Fishermen of Virginia, Winchester Wheelman and Virginia Odysseys. Other organization include the Alliance for Community Choice in Transportation from Charlottesville, as well as the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, a powerful force for bike advocacy in our nation’s capital.
Local officials are also beginning to back the effort as well. On May 18, the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors voted to endorse the resolution.
The Virginia Bicycling Federation is also working with other statewide advocacy organizations to include bike and pedestrian facilities in their local rail corridors and projects across the nation.
With renewed interest in US freight and passenger rail, large sums of state and federal monies are being spent to enhance and upgrade rail and freight corridors throughout the US.
Besides freight corridor projects, such as the I-81, “Crescent Corridor” and “Heartland Corridor” running from Chicago to Portsmouth, VA, there are currently ten major high-speed passenger rail corridors proposed for improvement along the east coast, according to the Department of Rail and Public Transportation’s, Director, Charles M. “Chip” Badger. In a presentation to the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board on June 17, Mr. Badger stated that over $8 Billion in federal capitol grants have been proposed under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to improve rail passenger services. These funds will be available until September 30, 2012. $1B will then be allocated each year for five years to supplement these projects.
The VBF feels that some of these tax dollars should be used to include multi-modal, bike and pedestrian paths as projects as these corridors are upgraded.
According to Steve Pittard, CFO of the Virginina Department of Rail and Public Transportation, Virginia will spend $110.8 M on rail projects in fiscal year 2010. In the budget, $48.2M will be spent on the I-95 rail corridor, $13.7 M on the I-81 corridor and $27.3 M on passenger rail.
Over the next six years, the Commonwealth of Virginia is currently slated to spend $217 M in tax dollars on freight and passenger improvement projects.
Including rails with trails in these capital expenditures would provide the broadest, most environmentally friendly access of citizens to these long overdue projects.
Supporters of the resolution include:
|Adventure Cycling Association||Alliance for Biking and Walking|
|BikeWalk VA||Blue Ridge Bicycle Club of VA|
|Capital Region Land Conservancy||Cycor Sports|
|East Coast Greenway Alliance||Float Fisherman of VA|
|Franklin Freewheelers||Friends of the Rivers of VA|
|IMBA||League of American Bicyclist|
|Nelson Bicycling Alliance||New River Bicycle Club of VA|
|Pathways for Radford||Pulaski County Board of Supervisors|
|Rails-to-Trails Conservancy||Richmond Area Bicycling Association|
|Richmond Pro Cycling||Rivanna Trails Foundation|
|Rockbridge Area Conservation Council||Three Notched Trail Foundation|
|Tidewater Bicycle Association||Virginia Association For Parks|
|Virginia Bicycling Federation||Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail Fnd.|
|Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club||Virginia Conservation Network|
|Virginia Odysseys||Washington Area Bicycling Association|
|Williamsburg Area Bicyclists||Winchester Wheelmen|