(R-Auburn) has declared his support for moving a federal transporation funding bill to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives which would would eliminate the federal Safe Routes to School program and guaranteed public transporation funding, Publicola reports.
In addition to possible effects on Metro and Sound Transit, the elimination of the Safe Routes to School program will affect pedestrian and bicycle improvements on Mercer Island.
In 2008, the city won $220,000 in grants from the road safety program aimed at improving and encouraging children to walk or bicycle to . The money was invested in new sidewalks on SE 78th Street, crosswalks and radar-feedback speed limit signs along 84th Avenue Southeast, and the project was completed in September 2009 (the speed limit signs were installed in Nov. 2009). The city has been seeking additional grant funding from the program to improve sidewalks and access to and elementary schools.
Critics have complained that placing transit funding in a general fund — subject to annual appropriation, reversing a Reagan-era policy — will effectively reduce transit funding at a time of record ridership.
In a party-line vote, Reichert joined 19 other Republicans in support of the bill, and 17 were opposed (two Republicans joined Democrats in opposition). A vote in the full House is expected later this month.