The United States Senate thwarted an unexpected and serious attack against important Transportation Enhancement (TE) funding last week.
The attack came when Senator Coburn (R-OK) sought to eliminate the requirement that states set aside at least 10% of federal highway dollars for Transportation Enhancement projects.
The TE program is a critical source of funds for projects that improve the physical and natural environment. Eligible TE projects range from billboard removal and streetscape improvements to installing wildlife crossings and bike lanes. (Visit the National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse here.)
In presenting his amendment, Sen. Coburn took particular issue with "highway beautification" and wildlife enhancement projects.
While thankfully the attempt to end the 10% set-aside requirement failed, scenic advocates must work to ensure that even more funding is alloted to the program in the future. Indeed, the next long-term transportation funding bill, which sets funding priorities for the next six years, is expected to be enacted sometime next year.