This past weekend, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which passed the Senate in August. The bill will next head to President Biden for his signature. Maine’s four members of Congress—Sen. Susan Collins, Sen. Angus King, Rep. Jared Golden, and Rep. Chellie Pingree—all voted Yes. In fact, Sen. Collins, the ranking member of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, was part of the core group of 10 senators who negotiated the actual text of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
The good news. Along with other infrastructure funding and programs, the IIJA includes a key program that funds much of the country’s bicycle and pedestrian facilities—the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). The bill authorizes nearly 70 percent more money for the TAP, from $850 million to an average $1.44 billion per year. The Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) spends about $2 million from TAP annually on bicycle and pedestrian projects. Some examples of projects that received federal TAP funding include: the Bangor River Walk, Bayside Trail in Portland, pedestrian bridge in Biddeford-Saco, and the Presque Isle bike/ped multi-use trail. The increase in funding should result in an increase in MaineDOT’s bike/ped spending—and the BCM will continue to work with the MaineDOT to ensure that happens.
However, the bill is not as transformative as many groups—including the League of American Bicyclists and the Rails to Trails Conservancy—hoped and advocated for in order to truly move the needle when it comes to active transportation. You can learn more in the links below.
What’s next? The fight for more federal support for active transportation continues! The Build Back Better bill is still under negotiation and currently includes active transportation grants that specifically seek to address issues of equity and climate action. And, of course, how the IIJA is implemented and how Maine uses the funding is critical to ensuring we commit to deep and lasting investments to make walking and biking more accessible and safer for everyone. The BCM and our supporters are here to make positive change happen!
We encourage you to thank your members of Congress and ask them to support further investment in biking and walking in the Build Back Better bill.