National park roadways to receive 18 percent increase in transportation funding
WASHINGTON – National park roadways are slated to receive an 18 percent increase in funding from the recently passed Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), a non-profit advocacy group, praised Congress for including the increase, which will help fund the repair and maintenance of roads, bridges, and transportation systems within America’s national parks.
“Yellowstone, Great Smoky Mountains and so many national parks need substantial funding to maintain and improve their roadways. This bill takes a major step forward toward repairing important roads, bridges, and transit systems to ensure visitors can enjoy national parks with their families for years to come,” said Laura Loomis, NPCA’s Deputy Vice President of Government Affairs. “Congress is heading in the right direction toward addressing the costly backlog of road projects.”
The FAST Act authorizes federal highway programs for five years and during the life of this law ramps up the annual funding guarantee to the National Park Service from $268 million to $300 million through the Federal Lands Transportation Program. Overall, the National Park Service will receive an additional $220 million over the span of the five-year bill. Under the previous law, the National Park Service received an annual funding guarantee of $240 million.
Additionally, the new legislation authorizes up to $100 million annually for the Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects Program designed to address exceptionally large repair projects such as replacement of the Grand Loop Road in Yellowstone National Park.
During 2014, national parks welcomed 292.8 million visits – a record-breaking total – which generated nearly $30 billion in economic output and supported 277,000 private-sector jobs. The roads, bridges, and transit systems managed by the National Park Service not only connect people to recreation and tourism activities, but can serve as main commuter routes and major arteries in cities.
The National Park Service manages about 10,000 miles of roadways, which is a greater distance than a roundtrip drive between Washington, DC and Anchorage, Alaska. One of the longest stretches of roadway in the park system is the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway, connecting Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Shenandoah National Park. The Blue Ridge Parkway, a critical corridor for tourists and commuters, was the second most visited national park in the country in 2014 and generated $1.2 billion in economic output for the national economy which supported 14,000 private-sector jobs.
Nearly 80 national parks also maintain transit systems and other types of alternative access, including bike paths, ferries, shuttles and more. In addition to reducing visitor traffic congestion and improving safety, they vastly improve the visitor experience.
About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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