"For the third straight year, IDOT has taken aim at a program that
supports bicycling in the state," said Ed Barsotti, executive
director of the League of Illinois Bicyclists. "It's simply not
fair, and it's not what the U.S. Congress intended when it approved
funding for the nation's transportation systems."
Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) is the main federal
funding source for trails. Before 2003, trails received about half
of these funds, or about $13 million annually. The agency's actions
could reduce the amount to $3 million this year.
Barsotti said, "IDOT endangers funding for bike trails three
ways. First, much ITEP money has been shifted to other uses. Second,
the agency disproportionately cuts ITEP funds compared to other
state transportation programs. Finally, the agency has been slow to
offer ITEP grants to communities. By not obligating the funds in the
first place, the dollars then become easy targets for the
budget-cutters each year."
The league has urged the state to correct these problems and
apply a more equitable standard when cutting federal allocations.
Despite these pleas, the state last year chopped a whopping 61
percent from ITEP, compared to an overall reduction of only 13.7
percent for total federal transportation money.
[to top of second column]
This process is called rescission. The federal government
initially allocated $1 billion in transportation funds to Illinois
this year, and then later reduced the amount, forcing Illinois to
make cuts in its transportation spending.
"The rescission situation in Illinois has only worsened trail
funding at a time when we should be concentrating more efforts on
reducing pollution and traffic congestion. Increasing reliance on
alternative transportation, like bicycling, is good for our
environment, our health and our family budgets," Barsotti said.
He called on those who support bicycling to urge Gov. Rod
Blagojevich and IDOT to spend more on biking programs and protect
these programs from the drastic reductions of the past. Contact
[Text copied from file received
from the League of Illinois Bicyclists]