We reported earlier this summer that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) had announced that the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program’s federal funding (under Section 1404 of the 2005 Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU)) will be exhausted with this year’s grants. We mentioned that, absent legislation to provide additional federal funding, Fairfax and other Virginia counties that want an SRTS program must self-fund or find other funding.
Well, there is legislation under consideration in Congress, and it needs our support.
H.R. 386, the Safe Routes to School Expansion Act, is intended to expand eligibility under the Highway Safety Improvement Program to include certain safety projects related to safe routes to school infrastructure improvements such as sidewalks, crosswalks, signage, bus stop shelters or protected waiting areas. The bill also increases the federal share for state Departments of Transportation to fund improvements for pedestrian and bicyclist safety, safety of people with disabilities, and safe routes to school infrastructure. Best of all, it requires transportation departments to carry out a SRTS program for the benefit of children in primary, middle, and high schools and allows funding for training, volunteers, and managers of SRTS programs. The bill has been referred to the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, chaired by DC Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton. The bill appears to be making little, if any, progress as Congress has focused on the infrastructure bill.
FABB encourages everyone in Fairfax County who values the SRTS program to Speak Up! and let your representative know that you support SRTS and ask them to support and become a co-sponsor of H.R. 386. We need action now because, as mentioned above, the funding ends with this year’s grants.
Act now and contact the following northern Virginia members of Congress on their websites or on Twitter:
8th District: Don Beyer, Jr.
10th District: Jennifer Wexton
11th District: Gerald Connolly
Again, let’s let our elected officials at all levels know that we support Safe Routes to School and keep the pressure up to make sure this vital program isn’t overlooked amid the other transit and infrastructure spending.