Increased Funding Needed for National Parks Improvements, Say Experts
(StatePoint) Local roads, bridges, and other transit are integral parts of the national park experience. However, parks and their transportation infrastructure are facing a mounting financial challenge, say experts.
Under the current law, the National Park Service is guaranteed $240 million per year for transportation projects through the Federal Highway Trust Fund, which advocates say is only one quarter of the amount needed annually to guarantee safe access to national parks.
“With national park visits at an all-time high, more park funding, not less, is what’s needed to address the $6 billion worth of overdue and delayed transportation projects on the table,” says Laura Loomis, National Parks Conservation Association’s deputy vice president of government affairs.
The National Park Service manages 1,500 bridges and about 10,000 miles of roads nationwide, including rural national park drives and major urban thoroughfares. From corroding support beams on park bridges to outmoded roads that create dangerous drop-offs, unfunded projects can pose a safety hazard to motorists, cyclists, hikers, park staff, emergency responders and wildlife.
“Not only should Congress ensure national parks are safe, but investing in them spurs economic growth and supports jobs,” says Loomis. “The 100th anniversary of the National Park System in 2016 is a historic opportunity for Congress to ensure our national parks have the resources they need to thrive.”
Information about transportation needs and funding opportunities in national parks can be found by visiting http://www.npca.org.
National parks around the country provide natural, educational, recreational, cultural and historical experiences for millions of visitors. In fact, there were 292.8 million visits to national parks in 2014, breaking the previous record of 287.2 million visits set in 1987.
With national parks more popular than ever, it’s likely you’ll find yourself on a park road soon enough. Experts say that well-funded national park roads and bridges will help keep visitors safer and make their national park experiences more enjoyable.
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The city of Glenwood Springs has proposed investing $5.76 million for street improvements in the 2020 budget.