Federal Gov't. Spends Over $2 Million on Bike Trails in Colorado

By Patrick Burke | February 21, 2013 | 6:39 PM EST

Mountain biking in Colorado. (Photo: State of Colorado)

- The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced two separate grants totaling over $2 million in federal tax dollars to expand bicycle and pedestrian trails at two different locations in Colorado.

One of the grants amounting to $1,735,000 will go towards the completion of a pedestrian and bicycle trail called the Rocky Mountain Greenway.

The Rocky Mountain Greenway, first proposed in May 2011 by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, will link wildlife refuges with existing trails in the Denver metropolitan area, as well as to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Construction on the Greenway trail is already well underway, and the recent $1.7 million provided by DOT’s Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks program will be devoted to an additional trail link approximately seven miles long.

DOT also gave $337,000 to Estes Park, Colo., to expand a trail system by 2.5 miles.

Estes Park, in Larimer County, Colo., is the gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park. According to the Transportation Department, the extra amount of trail is expected to decrease the amount of trips to the park by car and make the trail safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.

“The trail is expected to reduce the number of auto trips to the park by 4,200 each year and improve safety for visitors by separating motorized and non-motorized access to the park,” according to the grant description.

The two grants in Colorado are part of a $12,497,921 package appropriated in FY 2012 for 29 projects that will go towards the improvement of access national parks, forests and wildlife refuges. Between FY 2011 and 2012, DOT has given out $53.3 million in grants.

Other examples of grants include $193,400 for transit vehicles that will take Chicago area residents to a popular summer destination in Indiana, as well as $504,334 for a bicycle share service in Minneapolis, MN.

Outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood traveled to Commerce City, Colo., on Feb. 18 to announce funding for the Rocky Mountain Greenway, where he was joined by Salazar and Hickenlooper.

LaHood claimed the nearly $12.5 million in projects will “help grow our economy and improve energy efficiency.”

“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 improve energy efficiency,” LaHood said in a DOT release from Feb 18.

“Improving access to modern transit services throughout our scenic parklands and protected areas will help us to preserve these national treasures for future generations,” he said.

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