Members of Congress Score Significant Federal Investment for the Capital Trails Network and Region’s Trails, Walking and Biking Infrastructure
The Capital Trails Network marked a significant win in the fiscal year 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Bill passed by Congress at the end of December. Sens. Cardin (D-MD), Kaine (D-VA), and Warner (D-VA), and Reps. Beyer (VA-08) and Connolly (VA-11) secured a total of $6.9 million in Community Project Funding to help advance the Capital Trails Network and Metropolitan Washington’s trails, walking and biking infrastructure.
The new Community Project Funding is critical to filling important trail gaps and moving us closer to the Capital Trails Coalition’s goal of completing the remaining 400+ miles of the 990-mile Capital Trails Network by 2030. One crucial segment – a new trail running parallel to I-66 through the heart of Fairfax County – was awarded $1 million with the additional $5.9 million going toward regional bicycle and pedestrian improvements, especially near high-density transit centers that connect to and benefit people using the trail network.
The Community Project Funding for the Capital Trails Network is an example of growing momentum behind federal investments in trails and active transportation infrastructure. Dozens of community projects included in the omnibus bill support trail and active transportation infrastructure. In addition, the federal omnibus bill includes $45 million to kick-start the Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program (ATIIP), a new program that provides dedicated funding for the planning and construction of safe and connected trail and active-transportation networks and long-distance spine trails.
While this current funding is a huge gain for the network and regional trails, biking and walking infrastructure, the District of Columbia has historically received a disproportionately small share of funding due to the federal earmark process largely driven by US Senators. District Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton estimates DC was short-changed tens to hundred of millions of dollars for 2023, a major loss for the region as a whole.
As the Capital Trails Coalition continues to pursue funding opportunities to advance the network, we’ll need the help from our trail advocates to reach the goal of completing all 990 miles by 2030. Stay tuned for updates and be sure to get involved today! Want to learn more about the demand for trails, walking and biking infrastructure and available federal funding? Check out resources here courtesy of our partners at Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.
Capital Trails Network Trails Awarded Community Project Funding:
- Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and Representative Gerry Connolly of Virginia successfully secured $1 million for bicycle and pedestrian improvements to the Interstate 66 (I-66) Trail/Vienna Metrorail Station in Fairfax. With more than 11 miles of connectivity, this project will improve access for pedestrians and bicyclists to the Vienna Metrorail Station and Oakton High School. This project has been identified as a priority project by the Capital Trails Coalition, running through the heart of a regional activity center and in an equity emphasis area.
Additional Trail-Related Efforts Awarded Community Project Funding:
- Representative Don Beyer successfully secured $1.5 million on behalf of the City of Falls Church to improve multimodal transportation infrastructure across the board including trails. All potential projects share the same objectives: to increase safety for those walking, bicycling, and taking transit, to reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, to enhance existing transportation networks, and to maintain and repair existing infrastructure.
- Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner successfully secured $4 million for the Virginia Department of Transportation to construct a cycle path from Sunrise Valley Drive to Innovation Metro station in Fairfax County. This project will provide safer pedestrian and bicycling connections to our region’s transit network, a critical step toward building a more robust active transportation network for Metropolitan Washington, and will connect to the Fairfax County Parkway Trail.
- Similarly, Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland successfully secured $428,000 for secure bike parking facilities in downtown Bethesda and Silver Spring. Both proposed facilities are adjacent to transit hubs, the Capital Crescent Trail and the future Purple Line Trail, and are within major mixed-use downtown areas.
The latter two projects will provide safer pedestrian and bicycling connections to our region’s robust and growing transit network, a critical step towards having a more robust active transportation network for Metropolitan Washington.