Updates from ASLA

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Top Priorities Secured in Senate Transportation Bill

On July 30, the Senate passed its version of a long-term six-year transportation bill. The Senate voted 65–34 for H.R. 22, a multiyear package that gives the Senate a bill it could take to conference with the House after the August District Work Period. After an intense advocacy campaign by active transportation coalitions, including ASLA, the Senate bill will preserve the popular Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). During bill consideration, Senator Mike Lee (UT) filed an amendment to repeal TAP. Thousands of advocates responded with volumes of messages and calls to the Senate opposing the amendment, with ASLA sending a record number of messages to senators on the issue. Ultimately, the amendment was not offered, and TAP was included in the final measure.

The bill also includes a landmark provision for a federal Complete Streets policy. The Safe Streets amendment offered by Senators Brain Schatz (HI), Dean Heller (NV), Al Franken (MN), and Tom Udall (NM) would require states and metropolitan planning organizations to plan and design for the safety needs of all users—regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation—in all federally funded projects. Eleven years ago, ASLA joined a diverse group of organizations to form the National Complete Streets Coalition to ensure that our rights-of-way are planned and designed for all users and all modes of transportation. Since that time, 700 state and local agencies have adopted Complete Streets policies. “Seeing our approach included in national legislation is a milestone for the movement,” said Roger Millar, Coalition Director. ASLA, joining with AARP, the League of American Bicyclists, LOCUS, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, and the National Association of Realtors, worked the Hill to shore up support for the amendment.

On the heels of a momentous 2015 Pollinator’s Week in June, ASLA successfully worked with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) to include language in the Senate transportation bill that would encourage pollinator habitat and forage on transportation rights-of-way. The provision is identical to the language of H.R. 2738, the Highways Bettering the Economy and Environment Pollinator Protection Act (Highways BEE Act), introduced by the bipartisan team of Representatives Alcee Hastings (FL) and John Denham (CA).

Just days before the current transportation authorization expires, both the House and Senate passed a short-term patch to keep transportation programs running through October 29, giving the House time to begin working on its multiyear transportation package in early fall. ASLA will continue its advocacy efforts with members of Congress and advocates to continue TAP, secure a national Complete Streets policy, adopt pollinators’ habitat in rights-of-way language, and other transportation programs and policies important to landscape architects in any transportation bill adopted by the House.

Tell your member of Congress to support active transportation in any new surface transportation bill.

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