Montana legislators will discuss a number of issues related to planning and funding for bicycle and pedestrian paths during a meeting in Helena on March 23.
The meeting, which begins at 9 a.m. in Room 137 of the state Capitol, will be live-streamed athttps://www.leg.mt.gov/ and be broadcast on the Montana Public Affairs Network.
During the meeting, an overview of bicycle and pedestrian path policies in Montana will be presented to members of the Transportation Interim Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Gordon Vance, R-Belgrade. The committee has been tasked with exploring current levels of funding for bicycle and pedestrian paths and considering future funding options.
Broad topics to be reviewed include statistics on the number of Montanans who bike or walk to work, and the numbers of residents and tourists who use multi-use trails and paths; the economic and health benefits of a robust trail system; construction and maintenance costs for new and existing paths; and possible funding mechanisms for path development, including bicycle registration fees and fuel taxes, as well as highway funding.
The National Conference of State Legislatures’ transportation program director will join the committee and provide an overview of bicycle and pedestrian path funding mechanisms in other states. A discussion of “share the road” issues and safety planning is also on the agenda.
According to the overview document prepared for committee members, existing multi-use paths are popular and well-used around the state. The Gallatin Valley is no exception; in fact, more Gallatin County residents than any other opted to pay an optional fee on their motor vehicle registrations to help pay for maintenance and repairs of shared-use paths since fee collection began in July 2017. Since then, about $10,000 of the $45,455 collected by the state came from Gallatin County, followed by $7,000 from Missoula County and about $6,600 from Yellowstone County.
The information-sharing at the March 23 meeting is part of the committee’s continued work on House Joint Resolution 45, an interim study to explore how bicycle and pedestrian paths are used in Montana and the resulting safety implications. The study also includes a review of existing and future funding opportunities.
The overview report that will be discussed at the meeting, can be accessed on the committee’s website at https://www.leg.mt.gov/committees/interim/2019tric/.
Also on the meeting agenda is a discussion about electric vehicles and Montana’s fuel tax. Members will learn about alternatives being implemented in other states to offset fuel tax revenues not collected from electric vehicle owners. The Department of Environmental Quality will present information about electric vehicle charging stations in Montana.
Work also will continue on traffic safety systems and policy. The focus of the discussion will be on rural road safety and safety engineering countermeasures.