Thanks for the interesting comments so far — keep them coming.

I’ve made a couple of calls to see if I can get my hands on that infrastructure list that Carolyn Chase mentioned in her comments — hopefully more on that later today. And amen on J’s comments regarding expanding transit to other high demand areas like the airport and UTC.

In the meantime, there’s another issue at the Federal level that warrants some attention locally. The next federal transportation bill is coming up for discussion in 2009. Hang with me here — it’s not as boring as it sounds.

Every four to six years, Congress puts together the federal transportation bill. In it are all the decisions about how much money to spend on interstates, local and state roadways, rail and transit projects, and anything else to do with transportation. It’s a BIG bill (both literally and figuratively).

Already people all around the country are wrangling about what the bill should look like this time around. Everyone from AAA to Rails to Trail to AARP will have an opinion. And this time it’s going to be a real test of how far the feds will go to put their money where their mouth is on issue like greenhouse gas emissions. Because if we’re serious about global warming, we can’t keep funding the same old same old transportation infrastructure.

Nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions in San Diego County are due to us driving around. To make any meaningful progress in our fight against global warming, we’re going to have to modify the way we get from point A to point B.

So one of the programs we’re most interested here at the Bicycle Coalition is the “Active Transportation Campaign.” It’s a program that would spend $50 million in each of 40 cities/regions around the country to get people to drive less and walk and bike more. It would fund bike paths, sidewalks, and connections to transit, along with programs to help people give up their cars for at least some of their trips. Cost-wise, it’s a drop in the bucket, but impact-wise it could be huge.

One of the other things the federal transportation bill deals with is the gas tax. I think the federal gas tax should be higher, so we can both discourage so much driving and can use those revenues to pay for alternative transportation options like transit. Now that gas prices have dropped to below $2 a gallon, is it the time for us to seriously consider raising the gas tax?


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