By Brian Darling
Yesterday, I wrote about the House-passed bill H.R. 2887, which would reauthorize expiring aviation and surface transportation programs for a few months.
Senator Tom Coburn (R–OK) is expected to offer an amendment to remove a mandate that forces states to waste 10 percent of all Federal Highway Administration money on something called Transportation Enhancements (TE). TE is a program run by the Department of Transportation to force states to build bike paths, “highway beautification,” and transportation museums.
From my blog post:
In the past, federal funds have been used by states to build animal highways for salamanders, frogs, and turtles. And liberals say there is little waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal government. In defense of the states, they are forced—as a condition of receiving money to build and repair actual highways for people—to spend about 10 percent of all federally received funds on such silly enhancement projects.
Add rocks and plants to that list.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D–NV) home state has used federal highway money to put “great big granite boulders” next to a highway interchange to make it look nice. One could argue that highway beautification is dangerous, because drivers are distracted by nice boulders and flowers on the roadside when they are supposed to be concentrating on driving.
In 2008, Nevada received transportation money with $6.2 million set aside for bike paths and boulders. According to KTNV in Las Vegas, $498,000 in federal funding went for “decorative rocks, native plants, some pavement graphics, a few walls, and some great big granite boulders” to make Las Vegas’s 215 beltway look nice.
That’s not the end of it: The Nevada Department of Transportation paid another $319,000 to spruce up another interchange with rocks and plants.
According to the National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse, Nevada has received $46.7 million for pedestrian/bike paths, $14.5 million for highway landscaping/scenic beautification, and $6.6 million for rehabilitation/operation of historic transportation buildings from fiscal years (FY) 1992 through 2010.
The numbers nationally are staggering. A report titled Transportation Enhancement Spending Report: Analysis of the States’ Use of Federal Funding, dated May 2011, found $12.5 billion of your tax dollars in highway funds for projects other than highways:
The Fiscal Year 2010 Spending Report explains how states spent nearly $12.5 billion in Transportation Enhancement (TE) funds from fiscal year (FY) 1992 through the end of FY 2010.
Want a common-sense idea? Stop placing boulders near highways in Nevada using precious tax dollars.