In his State of the Union address last week, President Obama called on us to upgrade our nation’s transportation infrastructure to help grow our economy and create jobs. Yesterday, our Federal Transit Administration took a big step forward on both fronts with $12.5 million in grants for 29 transit projects in 20 states to improve access to America’s national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges.
Better transit in our parks will help us preserve these national treasures for future generations and make it easier for millions of visitors to enjoy the nation’s scenic Federal lands. This announcement is part of $80 million distributed to 134 Transit in the Parks projects across the country over the last three years.
To celebrate this year's "Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks" awards, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and I were in Colorado to announce a $1,735,000 grant. These funds will help expand the Rocky Mountain Greenway, a pedestrian and bicycle trail system to connect the Denver metropolitan area’s trail systems, three National Wildlife Refuges in the region, and Rocky Mountain National Park.
Whether we're building new bike paths to connect Denver with the region's parklands or renovating a train station in downtown Denver, infrastructure moves Colorado--and all of America--forward. Through transportation investments, we can make this country a magnet for jobs and manufacturing. And we can build a transportation network that helps us meet President Obama’s goal of combatting climate change.
Now, I had never been to Glacier National Park before, and I have to say that it is absolutely spectacular. The lakes, the mountains, the snow-packed meadows--it is stunningly beautiful and pristine, and we need to keep it that way.
When a park like Glacier has more than 600,000 visitors in each of its busiest summer months--and nearly 2 million visitors a year--transit service makes a big difference. Not only does reducing congestion improve visitors' experience in this special place; it also helps keep down the carbon emissions from the thousands of vehicles that would otherwise be crawling along the park's narrow road.
As Administrator Rogoff said:
“By taking cars off the road and reducing harmful emissions and pollutants in our nation’s most natural and pristine settings, we’re helping Americans and visitors from around the world enjoy these public lands as they were meant to be enjoyed. From new pedestrian walkways and bicycle trails to energy-efficient shuttle buses, these investments help to keep our parks sustainable for years to come.”
Our national parks are one of America’s greatest investments. And they were created out of the democratic idea that the natural wonders of our land should be open not only to a privileged few, but to all of us. For nearly 141 years, we’ve upheld this commitment to the American people.
More popular than ever, the parks remains one of our nation's greatest investments. Hardworking Americans come to our parks to take a break from the daily grind. Our kids and grandkids come here to learn skills that apply not only in the outdoors, but in the classroom and throughout their lives as well.We must do all we can to strike the right balance—to protect the land while also making it easier for people to see the sites. So I’m thrilled to have had the privilege of visiting Glacier National Park yesterday to announce our latest effort to ensure that Americans can continue to enjoy what previous generations have preserved for us.