Thursday, January 22, 2004

Asbury Park Press- Thursday letters to the Press:

"Transportation enhancements a bargain"

The criticism of the enhancements program in the Jan. 12 story 'Gas taxes go to things far from transit' is shortsighted and fails to see how transportation affects our quality of life. Transportation enhancements cost the country about $500 million a year -- about the same price as the Atlantic City tunnel. Compared to the cost of the $300 billion highway bill, enhancements are an incredible bargain.
For instance, would residents of Little Silver argue that the rehabilitation of their historic train station was a waste of transportation dollars? And who would have ever thought that a bicycle ride between Keansburg and Atlantic Highlands was a healthy activity before the Henry Hudson Trail bikeway? Those projects would not have happened without transportation enhancements.
If there is inequity in the transportation system, it lies in the fact that we as Americans fail to complete our streets for safer bicycling and walking. Statistics and a look out the window bear this out: 13 percent of all highway deaths are either bicyclists or pedestrians, yet we spend less than 1 percent of the overall highway budget on accommodating them. Walking to school has decreased 60 percent while driving our super-sized kids to schools accounts for 20 percent of our morning congestion.
Simply pouring concrete on our transportation problems has only made things worse. It's time to get out of our cars and back on our feet.
John Boyle