February 17, 2011 (Oakland)--The East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) strongly opposes the proposed $600 million elimination of the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER II) program. As part of the current debate about how to fund the federal government for the rest of 2011 with a "continuing resolution," the U.S. House majority has called for the elimination of the TIGER II funds.
The District was awarded a $10.2 million TIGER II grant on October 19, 2010, to close critical gaps in its nearly 200 -mile paved regional trail system, which safely connects communities, schools, and businesses to BART and other transit stations. As one of the largest TIGER II grant recipients in California, the grant awarded to EBRPD's "Green Transportation Initiative" will create more than 200 jobs. Without the TIGER II grant, the green transportation projects located in Dublin/Pleasanton, Oakland, Hercules, and Martinez/Crockett will not be constructed and local matching funds will be lost.
East Bay Regional Park District commends the leadership of its legislative delegation who helped secure the TIGER II funds for their communities, including U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Congressman George Miller (D-Martinez), Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove), Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-Pleasanton), and Congressman Pete Stark (D-Hayward). "Our delegation worked tirelessly to help secure the TIGER II grant," stated EBRPD General Manager Robert E. Doyle. "They are the true champions of the Green Transportation Initiative and we stand ready to work with them to turn back these proposed cuts," Doyle added.
The East Bay Regional Park District is the largest regional park agency in the United States and serves the two East San Francisco Bay Counties of Alameda and Contra Costa, home to 2.5 million people. Since the early 1970s, the District has worked to develop an integrated network of paved bicycle and pedestrian trails covering nearly 200 miles that provides non-motorized and non-polluting routes for recreation as well as for children and commuters to get to school and work. The District is reliant upon the TIGER II grant to complete linkage of the trail network to five public transit stations.
The five projects potentially impacted by an elimination of TIGER II funding parallel congested roads and provide safe commuting alternatives for cities, including economically disadvantaged communities, to businesses, transportation centers, schools, and parks. With TIGER II funds, it is estimated that 200 jobs will be created during the construction of these projects. Additional jobs will likely be created as the areas near these projects become more attractive to entrepreneurs looking to start small businesses that are more accessible to commuters. There are 265,000 residents living within one mile of the five projects and the trail network already enhances economic competitiveness in the region by connecting people directly to businesses and transit. The trail projects funded by this grant will significantly increase transportation choices and access to transportation services. Another 500,000 residents already live adjacent to existing trails and will also benefit.