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08-10-2005, 10:23 AM
U.S. Transportation Bill Promises More Trails

The U.S. Congress is set to approve a new five-year federal transportation Bill that will increase trails funding, including federal grants for singletrack, according to the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

After two years of delays, the new bill is finally in front of both houses of congress and will move on for President Bush's signature. In total, it will increase funding for bike programs by nearly $2 billion through 2009.

Most important for mountain biking, the bill promises more money for the Recreational Trails Program - a small but important project in the massive $286 billion transportation bill. The Recreational Trails Program, funded by non-highway recreation gas taxes, has helped communities build and repair thousands of miles of trails, involving more than 7,000 projects in all 50 states.

Funding for the Recreational Trails Program will grow to a total of $370 million over five years, $100 million more than the previous transportation bill passed in 1998.

"This new bill is great for mountain biking," said IMBA executive director Mike Van Abel. "We're pumped that funding for the Recreational Trails Program will increase. This federal grant program is extremely important to mountain biking's future."

"For the past two years, our lobbying team in Washington has pushed IMBA's message. All of that hard work has paid off. Everyone who donated funds, visited Capitol Hill during IMBA's lobby days, or contacted their members of Congress, deserves thanks. You helped IMBA convince lawmakers that mountain biking trails are important," added Van Abel.

The new bill also creates the first-ever national Safe Routes to School Program, and authorizes more money for transportation enhancements and other key programs that support bike facilities. Overall, bicycling and recreation groups are very pleased with the legislation.

Bicycling organizations collaborated in the transportation bill lobbying effort under the banner of America Bikes. Other trail and recreation interests, both motorized and non-motorized, rallied together through the Coalition for Recreational Trails. For more details on bicycling projects in the transportation bill, visit the America Bikes website at www.americabikes.org. To learn more about the Coalition for Recreational Trails, visit www.funoutdoors.com.