by MARIO HILARIO, NBC 10 NEWS
A vote on transportation spending this morning has bicycle advocates crying foul.
By an 18 to 1 vote the State Planning Council approved shifting $37 million in funding over the next 10 years from bike and pedestrian infrastructure projects to roads and bridges, to the dismay of bicycle advocates who say that funding is critical.
“Primary is safety, we have a number of pedestrians being hit almost on a weekly basis in Rhode Island, cyclists are being hit on a regular basis,” said Kathleen Gannon with the Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition.
RIDOT director Peter Alviti says the $37 million is not being lost, just shifted and that overall spending on bicycle and pedestrian projects will actually increase over the next ten years
“We are now incorporating the bicycle and ped projects into our road and bridge projects so while there may have been a shift of funds we’re greatly actually increasing the investment by $80 million,” said Alviti.
But one state rep who advocated against the funding shift says not keeping bike and ped spending separate means less accountability.
“What I don’t like is the way they are no longer accounting for that spending as bike and ped we need to understand exactly how those dollars are being spent,” said Representative Teresa Tanzi.
And while advocates say they appreciate what DOT is doing to fix RI roads and bridges they don’t want it to be at the expense of spending on infrastructure for bicyclists and pedestrians.
DOT says this administration is spending more on bike and ped projects than has been spent historically in the state.
“This governor is doubling what any previous governor in history has spent on bike and ped for a full 10-year period,” said Alviti.“Historically the spending has been so very low that to call it historic is laughable,” said Gannon.