Safer road for Bicyclists – Priceless!

Safer roads for bicyclists — priceless

Friday, September 12, 2014

Special to the Daily Mail

Typical bike lane signage through town

Typical bike lane signage through town

Can we put a price tag on a life … your life, mine, anybody’s? Of course not and I know everyone feels that way. It’s the very reason I took on the project to establish reserved bicycle/pedestrian lanes along U.S. Highway 54 and provide “SHARE THE ROAD” signs. I’m a concerned citizen about the potential for loss of life and I know you are, too.

​There has been a lot of interest in the “Share the Road” initiative. The interest, however, has also raised a couple questions. Most want to know more about how the TAP Grant works and what it means in terms of county, city and private sector contributions. Those are fair questions with complicated answers. This article is intended to explain all of it, with the hope that in the end more people will want to help with a pledge that they will donate to support their county and city “Share the Road” project.

​When I first began this process, I met with the Vernon County Commissioners to appeal for their support. The commissioners agreed with the initiative and committed to take the lead as the local government to apply for a TAP Grant.​ TAP is a federally funded grant to help counties and cities with their Transportation Alternatives Program budgets. If approved, the TAP Grant would fund 80 percent of the “Share the Road” project with the remaining 20 percent left to the counties, cities and personal donations.

The meeting was successful and gave me the support I needed to proceed. Austin Mount, director for the Kaysinger Basin Regional Planning Commission, confirmed that we qualify for the grant but also mentioned that others are applying, too. Mount’s commission review​s all TAP grant applications for our area. Bonnie McCord, Vernon County presiding commissioner,​ ​asked, “What can we do as a community to advance our chances for this grant approval?”​

Austin Mount offered these three steps to increase our chance for TAP approval:

​1. Involve as many local governments as possible.

JD Kehrman, Nevada city manager, has agreed to make a positive recommendation for the city of Nevada to include some funding in the 2015 budget.

At least one city councilman from El Dorado Springs will make a positive recommendation to partner in the grant application.

Cedar County Commissioners will be contacted and, hopefully, will support the grant application.

2. Attach pictures to the application showing the need for striping and signage. We need a little bit of your time on Saturday, at 8 a.m. to participate in a short bicycle ride to demonstrate this.

Meeting place for the ride is the south side of the Nevada Square.

Everyone is invited to show their support for the project.

Young and old (yours truly) at all skill levels are encouraged to join us.

​The ride will take us on a short, 5 – 6 mile ride primarily on Walnut Street through Nevada.

Walnut Street is the alternate route to avoid the busier and more dangerous Austin Boulevard (Highway 54).

​And, the most crucial step in the process …

3. Obtain local government and community commitments to cover the 20 percent match.

Counties and cities are stepping up and will include funding in their 2015 budgets. I expect to have a 100 percent commitment by the time the TAP Grant application is completed.

The private sector is coming forward, too, with some pledges to donate. Others needed more information, which this article covers.

There remains a significant gap to be closed by mid-October.

What’s the bottom line? How much is “Share the Road”? Darin Hamelink, MoDOT area engineer, has very roughly estimated $80,000. The final amount could be more or less. Using the $80,000 approximation, the TAP Grant would cover $64,000 (80 percent) leaving $16,000 (20 percent) to local governments and the private sector.

I am confident that counties and cities will proportionately fund half of it. Negotiations are underway to determine that precise number. The heart of the matter is this: the TAP program must see donations from the private sector to show area-wide support. The more solidarity they see via donations, the better our chances are for grant approval. How much does the private sector need to donate? A practical estimate is half of the $16,000 or $8,000. To date, I have pledges for approximately one third of that.

So my work to make “Share the Road” possible continues.

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” — Henry Ford

I am asking you to pledge any amount your heart and checkbook can manage. Please help me make this project happen. “Let safety rule our roads.” Together, we can save lives.

Pledge forms are available from Frank Briscoe and The Nevada Daily Mail office, as well as other locations. Fill out the pledge form and send it to Bonnie McCord, Vernon County presiding commissioner.

Leave a Reply