PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The State Planning Council voted Thursday morning to shift funding from planned bicycle and pedestrian projects to road and bridge improvement projects.
The amendment was overwhelmingly approved with a vote of 18-1.
The vote means roughly $37 million appropriated to the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) will be moved to the state’s 10-year transportation spending plans.
RIDOT Director Peter Alviti says although the money is shifting, funding for pedestrian and bicycle projects is not decreasing.
Alviti says current and future RIDOT construction plans have pedestrian and bicycle investments built into the budget and design process.
Alviti calls the idea that state investment into pedestrian and bicycle projects is decreasing, “A misunderstanding.”
According to Alviti, RIDOT will still be giving TAP roughly $20 million a year of pedestrian and bicycle projects.
Alviti claims in all, the state invests a total of $80 million a year in improving trails, sidewalks, bridges and paths for bicycles and pedestrians. This includes money from TAP and other funds.
Critics of the move include state Representative Teresa Tanzi, who argues by moving the money out of TAP and into the 10-year plan, tracking where money is going, and how much is being spent, is now more difficult.
State Sen. William Conley and Sen. Dawn Euer lead senators in opposing RIDOT on this measure. Both claim 35 members of the Senate have signed a bipartisan letter against the vote.
The planning council also has written statements from hundreds of citizens against moving the funding.