Text Of Ballot Title For Highway Debt Bond Election, November 8, 2011

(See text of ballot at end of email)

US Department of Transportation Secretary has the authority to withhold approval for projects that would negatively impact pedestrians and bicyclists and recommends "Considering walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes." USDOT further says, "Transportation agencies should find ways to make facility improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists during resurfacing and other maintenance projects. (This is called sustainable or green transportation.)

I personally am going to vote against this bond indebtedness.  I believe we all have the right to make our choice and argue our case without hard feelings, but I wanted to point out a few things that concern me.

We have been told by different proponents of the bill that this money cannot be used for anything except for the repair of  the interstates. We have also been told it can't be used for bikeways, walkways, and pedestrian bridges.  However, the language in the text of the ballot (see text of ballot at end of email) appears to allow for those:    "The bonds shall be issued for the purpose of paying the cost of constructing and renovating improvements to interstate highways and related facilities in the State of Arkansas." Another phrase from the ballot says the bond money can:  "include the acquisition, construction, reconstruction, and renovation of such interstate highway system and facilities appurtenant or pertaining thereto."  

I am not saying that the bond funds WILL be used for bikeways, walkways, and pedestrian bridges, greenways, or mass transit stations; but I am saying I see nothing in the ballot that would keep that from happening.  And I will be surprised if some of the money (and maybe more than we would even envision)  is used for these "sustainable or green" forms of transportation.   I base my belief  on research I have done on the trends of transportation and on the "US Department of Transportation Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation Regulations and Recommendations", signed on March 11, 2010 by Ray LaHood, United States Secretary of Transportation.

 

Below are quotes (Emphasis added)  from that document that can be found at this link: http://www.dot.gov/affairs/2010/bicycle-ped.html

 

The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) is providing this Policy Statement to reflect the Department’s support for the development of fully integrated active transportation networks. The establishment of well-connected walking and bicycling networks is an important component for livable communities, and their design should be a part of Federal-aid project developments. Walking and bicycling foster safer, more livable, family-friendly communities; promote physical activity and health; and reduce vehicle emissions and fuel use. Legislation and regulations exist that require inclusion of bicycle and pedestrian policies and projects into transportation plans and project development.

 

The DOT policy is to incorporate safe and convenient walking and bicycling facilities into transportation projects. Every transportation agency, including DOT, has the responsibility to improve conditions and opportunities for walking and bicycling and to integrate walking and bicycling into their transportation systems.

 

The Secretary has the authority to withhold approval for projects that would negatively impact pedestrians and bicyclists under certain circumstances.

(Three bullet points under Recommended Action:)

All of this sounds just  like Obama and his power grabs, doesn't it? After next election, perhaps we can have a more sensible Secretary of  Transportation and can be assured our money during these hard economic times is spent on actual highways rather than wasting it on bikeways, walkways, mass transit, rail, and greenways. If you are wondering why Obama's administration is pushing so hard for the mass transportation, bikeways, and walkways, it is because they want to get us out of our automobiles and onto these other forms of transportation to save our planet from global warming. Driving up the price of gasoline and making it so expensive to travel by car is one way they intend to get us there. And Obama is marketing all of this through his plan of  "rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges" through his so called jobs bill that is just another stimulus bill. I really don't want Arkansas to be an enabler in Obama's plan.

For a couple of articles that will give you more information about what people have in mind for our future highways, see the links below:

"What if we could make those highways beautiful...by using the corridors for more than moving cars and trucks/  What if we thought of them as the backbone of a new, more diverse 21st-century transportation system?...as more and more people go by bike, why not use the many acres of urban interstates to move human-powered vehicles?" From "Should highways be the new bikeways?  http://bikeportland.org/2009/12/14/can-highways-be-the-new-bikeways-27065

 

But it’s time for us to look at the interstate system not as an aging network of highways in need of repair or replacement but instead as we might look at a navigable river...It encompasses a lot of land. Funds were appropriated at the outset for the purchase of two million acres; according to one estimate, the system actually takes up 40 acres per mile, or 1.87 million acres....This is not a radical idea. Obviously, the interstate, with its generous rights-of-way, is a prime spot for new rail lines, both high-speed intercity trains and commuter rail...And one more thing: say we reimagine the interstate system so that it becomes not just a route for cars and trucks but an intermodal-transportation-and-energy corridor.  From "Rethinking the Interstate"  http://www.metropolismag.com/story/20090121/rethinking-the-interstate 

Emphasis Added

BALLOT  TITLE

From this link:  http://governor.arkansas.gov/newsroom/files/garvee_bond_election_nov_8_2011.pdf

ISSUANCE OF STATE OF ARKANSAS FEDERAL HIGHWAY GRANT 

ANTICIPATION AND TAX REVENUE BONDS AND PLEDGE OF FULL FAITH

 AND CREDIT OF THE STATE OF ARKANSAS.

 

          Authorizing the State Highway Commission to issue State of Arkansas Federal Highway

Grant Anticipation and Tax Revenue Bonds (the “Bonds”) from time to time provided that the

total principal amount outstanding from the issuance of such bonds, together with the total

principal amount outstanding from the issuance of bonds pursuant to the Arkansas Highway

Financing Act of 1999, § 27-64-201 et seq., shall not, at any time, exceed five hundred seventy-five million dollars ($575,000,000). If approved, the bonds will be issued in one (1) or more series of various principal amounts with the last series being issued no later than December 31, 2015. The bonds shall be issued for the purpose of paying the cost of constructing and renovating improvements to interstate highways and related facilities in the State of Arkansas.

 

          The bonds shall be general obligations of the State of Arkansas, payable from certain

designated revenues and also secured by the full faith and credit of the State of Arkansas,

including its general revenues. Pursuant to the Arkansas Interstate Highway Financing Act of

2007 (the “Bond Act”), § 27-64-401 et seq., the bonds will be repaid first from: (1) revenues

derived from federal highway assistance funding allocated to the State of Arkansas designated as federal highway interstate maintenance funds, and (2) revenue derived from the increase in the excise tax levied on distillate special fuels (diesel) pursuant to § 26-56-201(e) and transferred to the State Highway and Transportation Department Fund pursuant to § 27-70-207(d) in accordance with § 26-55-1006(d). To the extent that designated revenues are insufficient to make timely payment of debt service on the bonds, such payment shall be made from the general revenues of the State of Arkansas. The bonds shall be issued pursuant to the authority of and the terms set forth in the Bond Act, § 27-64-401 et seq.

 

         Pursuant to the Bond Act, § 27-64-401 et seq., the highway improvements to be

financed are limited to the restoration and improvements to all of the interstate highway

system within the state, including roadways, bridges, or rights-of-way under jurisdiction

of the State Highway Commission, which shall also include the acquisition, construction,

reconstruction, and renovation of such interstate highway system and facilities

appurtenant or pertaining thereto.

 

          Pursuant to the Bond Act, § 27-64-401 et seq., “designated revenues” are defined

as: (1) that portion designated by the commission of all funds received or to be received

from the federal government as federal highway interstate maintenance funds, and (2)

revenues derived from the increase in taxes levied on distillate special fuels pursuant to §

26-56-201(e) and transferred to the State Highway and Transportation Department Fund

pursuant to Arkansas Code § 27-70-207(d) in accordance with § 26-55-1005(d).

Designated revenues shall not include the revenues derived from the increase in tax on

motor fuel (gasoline) resulting from the “Arkansas Distillate Special Fuel Excise Tax Act

of 1999” and the “Motor Fuel Excise Tax Act of 1999”, §§ 26-55-1005, 26-55-1006, 26-

56-201, and 27-72-305. The bonds are further secured by the full faith and credit of the

State of Arkansas, and to the extent “designated revenues” are insufficient to make timely

payment of debt service on the bonds, the general revenues of the state shall be used to

pay debt service on the bonds.

 

          FOR authorizing the State Highway Commission to issue State of Arkansas

Federal Highway Grant Anticipation and Tax Revenue Bonds from time to time

provided that the total principal amount outstanding from the issuance of such

bonds, together with the total principal amount outstanding from the issuance of

bonds pursuant to the Arkansas Highway Financing Act of 1999, Arkansas Code

§ 27-64-201 et seq., shall not, at any time, exceed five hundred seventy-five

million dollars ($575,000,000); such bonds to be issued in one or more series of

various principal amounts, with the last series being issued no later than

December 31, 2015, and to be secured by the full faith and credit of the State of

Arkansas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . [ ]

 

          AGAINST authorizing the State Highway Commission to issue State of Arkansas

Federal Highway Grant Anticipation and Tax Revenue Bonds from time to time

provided that the total principal amount outstanding from the issuance of such

bonds, together with the total principal amount outstanding from the issuance of

bonds pursuant to the Arkansas Highway Financing Act of 1999, Arkansas Code

§ 27-64-201 et seq., shall not, at any time, exceed five hundred seventy-five

million dollars ($575,000,000); such bonds to be issued in one or more series of

various principal amounts, with the last series being issued no later than

December 31, 2015, and to be secured by the full faith and credit of the State of

Arkansas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . [ ]

 

 

Posted October 29, 2011

by Debbie Pelley

dpelley@suddenlink.net