U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced yesterday $12.5 million in grants for 29 projects in 20 states to improve access to America’s national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges. The selected projects will help reduce traffic congestion and make it easier for millions of visitors to enjoy the nation’s scenic Federal lands. The funds are provided through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks program, which awarded $40.8 million for similar projects in January 2012.
Secretary LaHood, U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff traveled to Commerce City, Colorado to announce a $1,735,000 grant to expand the Rocky Mountain Greenway, a pedestrian and bicycle trail system that will connect the Denver metropolitan area’s trail systems, three National Wildlife Refuges in the region, and Rocky Mountain National Park.
Two other projects in the Rocky Mountain National Park / Estes Park area will also be receiving funds:
* The Town of Estes Park will receive $337,000 to expand the Fall River Multi-Use Trail System along 2.5 miles adjacent to U.S. Highway 34, improving pedestrian and bicycle access to Rocky Mountain National Park and creating a seamless trail between the Estes Park Visitor Center and the park entrance. 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.
* The Town of Estes Park will receive $3,000,000 towards construction of a 300-space multilevel transit parking structure, two bus bays to support transit services between the Town of Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, and for a real-time bus arrival information system. Funds will also be used for the final design of a transportation hub at the Estes Park Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center.
The funds announced yesterday are part of $80 million distributed to 134 Transit in the Parks projects across the country over the last three years. This grant program was not reauthorized under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) which was passed by Congress last year. Going forward, public transportation projects serving national parks and other federal lands remain eligible for funding under the Federal Lands Transportation Program administered by the Federal Highway Administration.
A map and a complete list of projects can be found here.