Today, the United States Senate introduced a bill that includes a 21 percent increase in funding for national parks. America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, a surface transportation bill, would be used to repair and update roads, bridges, and transportation systems in national parks across the country. National park provisions are an important, but small portion of this nearly 500-page surface transportation bill.
Great Smoky Mountains and outdated shuttle buses in Zion. Our national parks are scraping by on shoestring budgets, while facing billions of dollars in needed repairs and updates to their aging infrastructure and transportation systems. In fact, more than half of the Park Service’s $11.9 billion maintenance backlog is comprised of transportation needs. This bill is a big step in the right direction. If enacted, this would provide critical funding to repair important roads, bridges and park transit systems to ensure millions of visitors can continue to experience and enjoy national parks now and for years to come.”
The National Park System is second only to the Department of Defense in the amount of federal infrastructure it manages, including 10,000 miles of publicly accessible roads and 1,440 bridges. The America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act would authorize federal highway programs that provide $287 billion over five years.
Key park provisions included in the bill:
• Guarantees an increase in annual funding to the Park Service – an additional $310 million over the span of the five-year bill – through the Federal Lands Transportation Program, which provides funds to improve roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure in parks.
• Dedicates $50 million a year and authorizes $100 million a year for the Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects Program designed to address exceptionally large repair projects in our parks, such as the reconstruction of the Tamiami Trail in the Everglades and a portion of the Grand Loop Road in Yellowstone.
• Provides measures to improve the resiliency of roads and bridges to natural disasters and extreme weather events.
• Encourages innovative solutions to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions, establishing a program that would support projects that protect motorist and wildlife through improved transportation infrastructure.
“Our park infrastructure is in bad shape, and the problem will only get worse if the chronic underfunding continues. We commend Chairman Barrasso (R-WY), Ranking Member Carper (D-DE) and the rest of the Environment and Public Works Committee for leading the effort to address the costly backlog of transportation projects throughout our country. Now, the other Senate committees and the House of Representatives must finish the work and pass final legislation to fix our country’s infrastructure, including our parks, and doing so without compromising public input and protections for our nation’s air, water and wildlife,” said Douce.
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