State transportation agencies recently had to return unspent money to the federal government, in a process called rescission. Twenty states cut transportation enhancement (TE) funds at or at less than their share of the overall transportation budget. Nevada chose to gut the TE program by taking 62% of the rescission from this program. Transportation enhancement funds are used for bicycle and pedestrian enhancement projects, as well as some others. Though all projects are supposed to accommodate bicyclists and walkers, they often do not, and certainly projects built in the past did not, so there is much work to do just to bring these modes to a share of the public roadways. Transportation enhancement funds can be used to make streets and highways into “complete streets,” facilities that serve all modes of transportation.
Why did Nevada have so much in unspent TE funds to begin with? Because the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) drags its feet on implementing projects to enhance biking and walking. Why did they take so much from TE? Because NDOT does not support the idea of bikers and walkers as having a right to a share of transportation infrastructure.
Rails to Trails’ rescissions page has more detail, and the linked table show just where Nevada stands. Not at the bottom, but third from the bottom, exceeded only by Nebraska and Texas. Several states, recognizing the backlog of bicycle and pedestrian projects that are critically important to safety and fairness, did not cut any funds from transportation enhancement.
Muscle Powered wrote to NDOT Administrator Susan Martinovich asking that transportation enhancement funds be cut in proportion to their share of the budget, or not at all, but we’ve received no reply. If this is important to you, you may want to write Martinovich yourself, or contact the new media. If NDOT succeeds in gutting transportation enhancement this time, they will continue to do it in the future.