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March 02, 2011


Is the adminstration pushing for reauthorization of the Recreational Trails Program and Transportation Enhancement Activities?

If the administration is NOT pushing for the reauthorization of Transportation Enhancements, Recreational Trails Program and Safe Routes to Schools program, WHY NOT?

The Rec Trails Program is self funding from the Federal Gas Tax dollars used by the Off Highway Vehicle community, so the funding is there, it should be returned to the States for trails.

Good morning Ray.

You are visibly a strong leader against distracted driving - much appreciated. But USDOT is heavily investing in moving the nation forward in connected vehicles for the safety, mobility and sustainability benefits. At almost every meeting I attend looking to encourage public and political interest in developing a wider appreciation and rapid embrace of those systems immediately once they are proven, people not deeply into connected vehicles see connected vehicles as being in conflict with driver distraction and therefore not going to move forward. While in meetings in the community for the program formerly known as IntelliDrive we have heard statements from senior USDOT officials that are articulate in the benefits vs the risks and the focus on doing driver interfaces right etc, we who want to spread the word, stir up interest and investment would benefit considerably from a purposeful public statement from DOT. I would ask that you personally publish a statement with respect to how connected vehicles fits with your concerns with respect to overall safety, productivity and sustainability and driver distraction.

Thank you

Please don't elliminate the retreationatrails program, it is the only grant program left in Nevada that folks can turn to for outdoor recreational trails. we have no other programs left. this will stop all rehab and care of our trails both urban and rural. Being able to hIke, bike and ride is so important to citizens due to gas prices and the economy. and children need to be able experience and learn about our great outdoors. please do not illiminate the program!

I appreciate your openness to the community and I do believe you honestly want to help America. But our country is trillions in debt right now. When you were given 1.3 billion in capital funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for high speed rail you promised America that you had shovel ready jobs and that did NOT come to be. Why do you continue to ask for more funds when you couldn’t produce jobs the first go round? I believe the country eventually will need high speed rail but not when we are in crisis. Let’s focus on what’s important now. Balancing the budget, fixing Social Security and Medicare and making sure we have affordable insurance for all Americans. All of us are cutting back and prioritizing what is important. The government should do the same thing.

Interstate workers were excluded from fair labor lwas when they were written in the 1930s. Freight moves differently now than it did 60 years ago. Truckers now have a life expectancy of about 15 years less than average Americans. Including truckers in the fair labor laws would be the right thing to do and ultimately lead to safer highways for everyone.

Please do not eliminate the funding for the Recreational Trails Program. WE are in Nevada and it is one of the only programs available to state and local goverment for getting trails constructed in our area. Many non-profit and local governments participate actively in the program annually and support Nevada State Parks and staff efforts to get these grants out to the applicants. Thankyou!

I owe Ray an apology. When he was first appointed I was very concerned about his lack of hardcore transportation experience.

Instead, he has done an exceptional job learning and leading transportation policy where it needs to go.

So thanks to you and your team, Ray. Best of luck with reauthorization.

Hello Ray, Thanks for the opportunity to comment. One of the issues is not the funding per se. As another commenter said the Rec Trails Program is self funding from the Federal Gas Tax dollars used by the Off Highway Vehicle Community. However, both the RTP and TE are included in the the "core program funds" distribution the state DOTs get from FHWA. This also means these funds are part of the Federal Obligation Limitation (FOBL) allowed by Congress in the annual appropriations bill, i.e. the amount you can actually spend and expect reimbursement for. In some states this amounts to quite a lot for the two programs. If funding levels are reduced so will the FOBL. Most state DOT's are not going to want to give up their FOBL for non-highway related construction. This will also be an issue if the programs are split off into another program such as, Livability. In the last 3 rescissions many states that had not rescinded RTP funds before did so. I fear this will continue as funding gets tighter.

First I want to say that not investing in infrastructure is as much a deficit left to our children as too much debt. And I'd venture to say lack of infrastructure investment has bigger harm to the economy.

Second, long-haul truckers pay a fair bit of taxes, but not enough to cover the full expense they cost taxpayers in road damage. This subsidy makes it harder for railroads to compete. This is backwards, considering that railroads are more fuel efficient, less polluting and safer.

Could you please address what we as individuals can do to influence more federal road funds being apportioned to alternative transportation infrastructure (specifically bike lanes). I live in Houston and recently attended the Greater Houston Area Partnership Meeting that originally intended a vote to divert funds previously marked for alternative transportation to highway funds.

It would help if there were federal mandates that funding is contingent upon some portion such as 20% being spent on alternative transportation. There has to be some enforcement at a higher level of government or cities can just ignore any movement toward alternative transportation.

As a retired senior government official, I ghost write grant applications for several agencies. Many of the plans (schemes) I see requested, and often funded, are so poorly conceived, planned and organized that they are essentially only well-intentioned scams. The trails related projects I see that are overseen by established trail management agencies (USFS, USNPS, State Parks, etc.), and conducted in concert with experienced volunteer oriented non-profits, are a shining exception. These projects have consistently been the right idea, in the right place, and are truly "shovel ready" even before grants are received. As of this date, matching community funding and in-kind labor and materials support on every project of this type with which I have been involved has exceeded 2.5:1, and in all but two has done better than 4:1. And the same local volunteers then assume ownership and do the long and short term maintenance - free. As a tax payer and a trained cost-benefit analyst, I consider support of recreational trails to be a superb investment of my tax dollars (at a time when I can't say that about many other domestic and entitlement programs).

Greetings, Secretary,

I am writing to plea for the continued support for USDOT's Recreaitonal Trails Program. Our organization, the Great Basin Institute, has utilized this funding to build and maintain hundreds of miles of trail in our region. Trails are important to us in the West, where wilderness access is limited and public space is vast. Thousands of young people have enjoyed our program that has been made possible by the RTP program. It is an essential part of our program portfolio and many folks will suffer dearly from its absence. Please be advocate for health, youth, and the environment by keep RTP safe from cuts.

Thank you,

Jerry Keir, Director
Great Basin Institute

Thank you Ray. I also want to add support for RTP, being that it is driven by a dedicated off-highway gas tax revenue source, and it is one of the few grant sources for public lands backcountry recreation. I too worry that it will be consumed in the Livability budget (as in the Administration's 2012 proposal) and go to another use. Locally, working with the Forest Service, our volunteers recently used an RTP grant to fund the materials for replacement of three major trail bridges well past their life span, one of which was partially collapsed. Otherwise use of this major trail arterial by both motorized and non-motorized users would continue to be a serious safety hazard. These are the same users who are the source for that portion of the gas tax. It is quite different than other TE topics.

My question is this:
Why don't you and the FMCSA listen to the truckers, truck owners, and air line pilots when deciding on new rules? It seems that you and your departments give no weight to the people that live in those occupations, example, the 14 hr rule, how would you, members of the special interest groups, or the judge that through out HOS 2005, be forced to work 11 hrs at their jobs, be on duty for another 3 hrs, then required to go immediately into a closet for 8 hrs, or being fined a weeks wages, and lose a days wages?
How about this, ANY regulations must be lived for 6 months by the people that propose them, AND the regulators that impose them, BEFORE they are shoved down the throats of the workers/owners. I think it's time for your department stopped de-humanizing the industries that you regulate on the whims of people that do not live the life, or do the work. Just my humble opinion.
Oh, just as a footnote, I have been a truck driver/owner since 1963, and have about 3 mil miles behind me.

Interstate workers were excluded from fair labor lwas when they were written in the 1930s. Freight moves differently now than it did 60 years ago. Truckers now have a life expectancy of about 15 years less than average Americans. Including truckers in the fair labor laws would be the right thing to do and ultimately lead to safer highways for everyone.

Dear Secretary LaHood,
The Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway is a work in progress to connect these two unique lakes in California and Nevada. The 116-mile project is about half finished, due critically to RTP funds over the past 6 years. Please don't let the Recreation Trails Program expire--it is our lifeblood!

Thank you for the hard work on behalf of the driving public.

The Rec Trails Grant is an important component for Quality of Life as it promotes hiking/biking trails and the experience of the outdoors. This is a needed mechanism to forward environmental education as well. Please keep it going.

Secretary LaHood, when will we begin to have an honest conversation about what our priorities are in the realm of transportation? I am an owner/ operator and since I have returned to my profession in 2007 all the same arguments have been bantered about from all the same interests groups, but yet the conditions of these roads and highways remain unchanged. Just as your administration and the previous admin. have continued levying new stipulations and regulations on the PROFESSIONAL driving public, nothing has yet to improve. On a per capita basis, our diesel fuel taxes raise a greater amount of revenue for the highway trust fund than any other source you have available...but yet to ask for a simple road to be in a condition that will not allow for damage to either myself or my vehicle, seems to be a tall order. Before we can even address any other issues such as driver fatigue, vehicle maintenance, or HOS...lets have a surface that vehicles can travel down first that is at least semi- acceptable...(worst being in (Indiana). Having read this page, I understand that the public has their own version of what our system should look like ultimately, and although some may sound ideal ... we do not live in a perfect world. Ultimately these diesel drinking, noise belching machines are still the most efficient way to move commerce across the country. So until a better alternative can be found that is more efficient (rail not being a logical choice)this is what we have to work with. Thank you for taking the time to address these concerns.

Driver for 15 years pretty good at what I do as over the road and leased. However, hos, instead of changing every thing such as my rythem, pay, customer satisfaction, dot csa, osha, msha, and not to mention family time, their are only 2 things that needs to be changed. By changing these 2 items will make you famous, safety awareness, truckers friendlier and become knights of the road once more for noncommercial drivers and strategic eyes for our homeland security. And that is reducing the dispatch rate (currently set for maximum speed limit of states) to 1/2 and 2/3 (team and solo) or so. This will eliminate just in time freight that is the root cause of truck accidents. (fyi it isn't the hos that reduced the crashes, it was the safety classes that large carriers that implemented so their self insurance would stay at a minimum). Also to remove the 14 clock which is not necessary because freight does not match hos for being competitive. Have 1st time CDL holders required to have quarterly safety course until first renewal so it will be understood for all seasonal driving habits. Thanks Ted.

Good morning Secretary LaHood,

What a wonderful idea! I would first like to commend you about your blog and your use of social media to foster transparent conversations on the future of transportation in America. Keep up the great work!

I am the Associate Director of the League of Michigan Bicyclists. I met you briefly a year ago immediately following your table top speech at the National Bicycle Summit. Here's the photo of you and I along with my lovely wife: http://bit.ly/gUR2JQ

My question to you is very simple. It is to fill in the following blank:

A bicycle friendly Michigan is a _______ Michigan.

This is the theme of the 2011 Michigan Bicycle Summit to be held on March 25th. We are asking folks to define what a bicycle friendly Michigan means to them and to the future of our state.

You'll find more details on the event and numerous responses to this very same question in the comments section on our site at:

If you are game, we would be honored to include you in the opening session of our Summit by showing a video clip of your response to this question. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to discuss this idea in more detail.

Thank you for considering our request.

As a response to the general negatives about rail systems, particularly on ‘investement’ costs, why can’t it be shown as to what the total spent to date for highway system funding for the Interstate system, and its linkages, over what period of time? My understanding is that rail development is a long-term (how many years?) process, and would serve large population centers. Also, with the increasing per gallon cost of fossil fuels (motor vehicle and air), can’t the cost for rail also show scenario escalating comparisons over time of rail and the other modes? It shoudl also be emphaszied that rail is not an “all or nothing” approach to transporation, but a comprehensive balancing of all the transportation modes that provide for the flexibility of individual movement based on time to travel, costs to travel, etc. As to rail’s ability ‘to pay’ for its development, emphaseize that motor vehicle and air have never been requested to justify the public invetsment costs for their infrastructure’s public development.

I posed a question awhile ago regarding high speed rail systems and in general public transportation. I still would like to know if there are any public transportation systems that are self sustained/profitable. I don't mind progress, but not at the expense of more deficits that will forever need to be subsidized by the government. Adding more deficit to the budget with white elephant projects to me is not fiscal responsibility even if they are green!

On another note, you budgeted for a Health Clinic at Headquarters? How smart was that? Send the people home or have them go to their own doctors at their own expense.
Do not be using tax dollars. Another fine example of fiscal responsibility.

There is often talk about how our transportation in the US can help reduce our contribution to greenhouses gases as part of a climate mitigation strategy, but what are your thoughts on providing national direction on how our transportation system can help species and ecosystems adapt to climate change?

Crossing structures are proving in individual states a key component of adaptation plans, do you see that emerging in a national transportation adaptation strategy?

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