Report shows transportation priorities

Safe Routes to School projects, such as this one in Fairfield, create safer, healthier communities. (The Birmingham News/Mark Almond)

The State of Alabama spends the largest percentage of planned transportation dollars on building new roads while spending less than the national average on transit, a new report released by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign shows.

Over the five fiscal years from 2009 to 2013, Alabama’s Statewide Transportation Improvement Program shows that new road capacity projects account for 34 percent of planned spending, followed by 31 percent for road maintenance/minor widening projects and 12 percent for bridge maintenance/replacement.

Proposed funding for transit purposes received only 11%, nearly half the national average of 20%, while proposed funding for bicycle/pedestrian projects was 2%.

Although the federal government provides significant resources for transportation projects, each state has substantial decision-making power about road, bridge, transit, bicycle and pedestrian projects. How states decide to prioritize projects affects local economies, environmental resources, and community development patterns.

Transportation funding affects not only our highways and bridges, but it also affects how our communities are designed and how our neighborhoods are built. How we decide to spend these funds affects people’s daily lives and their ability to get to work, school, or to run everyday errands. Our tax dollars should go towards building streets, roads, and highways that are safe for all users.

Making smart transportation choices that embrace values such as accessibility, equity and environmental sustainability have led many local public policy makers to look at taking a comprehensive view of transportation in their communities by embracing the concept of “complete streets”. Municipalities such as Birmingham, Mobile, and Bessemer have made strides to accommodate all users on roads, including bicyclists, pedestrians, transit users, and individual motorists.

With the recently passed MAP-21 federal transportation bill granting states more authority in how they use funds traditionally reserved for bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure, Alabama officials will have the opportunity to expand the current work taking place in communities throughout the state to create safe, healthy transportation options for all residents.

Among the study’s findings were, on average, states spend 20 percent of their federal transportation dollars (leveraged by state and local sources) on transit, 2 percent on bicycle/pedestrian projects, 39 percent on projects that maintain roads and bridges, and 23 percent on projects that add capacity to roads and bridges.

The report can be found at


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