Bicycle Advocates Fight To Keep Federal Funding

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(Host) A Vermont group has joined a national campaign to protect bicycle and pedestrian projects.

The Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition and other groups worry about a federal demand that states give back transportation money.

The Vermont coalition sent out an alert warning that Congress is requiring states to return $2.2 billion dollars in transportation grants.

The group worries that walking and cycling trails will bear the brunt of $8.5 million that Congress wants Vermont to return.

But VTrans spokesman John Zicconi says that won’t happen.

(Zicconi) The feds never let us spend everything they actually appropriate us. And what they do from time to time is then take back through a rescission some of the money they never allowed us to spend anyway in the first place. So what’s going on here is a paper exercise.

(Host) Zicconi says the spending reductions have happened every year for the past four.

He says his agency has learned to budget for no more than 90% percent of any federal appropriation.

(Zicconi) "So our budget, which just went into effect in July, is not at risk at all. There’s no programs that are at risk."

(Host) Zicconi says the state has actually increased spending for bike and pedestrian projects. And he says that when a road is repaved, the state looks to increase the width of the road’s shoulders to accommodate bicyclists.

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition says it will wait and see whether the state can follow through on its promises.

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