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U.S. DOT Announces $12.5 Million to Improve Access to America’s National Parks and Protected Areas

The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced $12.5 million in grants for 29 projects across the country to improve access to America’s national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges. These projects include funding to create a multiuse trail system for pedestrians and bicyclists to travel from the Golden Gate Bridge to the northern San Francisco Bay waterfront; a 2.5-mile multiuse trail adjacent to U.S. Highway 34 in Estes Park, Colorado, which is expected to reduce automobile trips in Rocky Mountain National Park by 4,200 per year; and an all-electric shuttle service in the Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico, which will reduce emissions and service a growing visitor population. 

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Funding for these projects is provided through the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks Program, which was established to address motorized traffic congestion in national parks, wildlife refuges, and national forests within the United States. Increasing crowds threaten the environment and wildlife and diminish the visitor experience. The Transit in Parks Program funds the implementation of transit alternatives such as multiuse trail systems for pedestrians and bicyclists, establishing or improving rail connections, and energy-efficient shuttle buses that are made in America. Over the past three years, the program has funded about 134 Transit in the Parks projects. Unfortunately, this successful program was not reauthorized under the new surface transportation law, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). Moving forward, public transportation projects serving national parks and other federal lands remain eligible for funding under the Federal Lands Transportation Program (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/map21/fltp.cfm) administered by the Federal Highway Administration.

Improving access in our national parks will not only create a more enjoyable visitor experience for the millions of park visitors each year, but these projects will also help conserve our parkland, reduce air pollution, and create jobs here in America. If you are working on any Transit in the Parks projects, we’d like to hear from you. Contact Federal Government Affairs Director Roxanne Blackwell to tell us about your projects.

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