The National Scenic Byways program could be in trouble, if new legislation including a funding cut for the program passes through the state.
“For us, (the program) has been a good source, a good way to build a lot of the great stuff in our community,” said County Administrator Craig Coffey. “I don’t know that people always realize how these dollars affect their lives and make our county a cool place to live.”
According to Coffey, no specific programs would cease functioning if funding dried up, but several enhancement projects would not be able to occur without byways grants.
The letter, signed by Flagler County Board of County Commissioners Chairwoman Barbara Revels, is as follows:
Dear Congressman Mica:
I am writing to respectfully express Flagler County's opposition to several provisions contained in H.R. 7 — the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012. We are concerned that the bill would repeal the National Scenic Byways Program, eliminate the current transportation enhancement set-aside, repeal the Safe Routes to School program and cut federal-aid highway investment by $15.8 billion. These provisions will have substantial consequences in Flagler County, and we urge you to take into consideration the negative impact their inclusion in H.R. 7 would have on our community.
The A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway is a 72-mile National Scenic Byway which traverses portions of Flagler and St. Johns Counties. As a National Scenic Byway, it plays an important role in drawing tourism to our area, strengthening our community and our local economy. The National Scenic Byways Program allows Flagler County and local byway-support groups to leverage funds to improve community livability and to protect important natural resources.
The Safe Routes to School program allows communities to engage in programs and projects that make it safer for children to walk or bicycle to school. This not only improves the health and safety of our children, but also lessens traffic congestion and improves air quality. The Safe Routes to School program has provided $50 million to Florida since 2005, and recently Flagler County teachers were able to partner with the Volusia County School District to get safety education training through this program.
Again, we urge you to take into consideration the negative impacts associated with H.R. 7 would have on our community. We very much appreciate your on-going partnership and support. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Barbara S. Revels, Chair
Flagler County Board of County Commissioners