WASHINGTON — Republican senators failed Tuesday in their third effort in less than two months to eliminate federal money for bike paths, walking trails and other transportation enhancement projects.
An amendment by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was defeated by a vote of 60 to 38. It would have forbidden the government from spending any money on enhancement projects and redirected funds to bridge repairs.
Paul and other critics say the program is bankrolling extravagant projects, such as a giant roadside coffee-pot shaped building, movie theaters and turtle tunnels.
But in many cases, these projects have been exaggerated or misrepresented. The coffee pot, for example, didn't receive transportation aid; the movie theater is really a driver's education classroom and the turtle tunnels are a wildlife eco-passage that allows animals to cross a busy Florida highway. Proponents of the project say motorists were swerving to avoid killing turtles, alligators and other critters.
Paul continued the misrepresentation Tuesday, telling senators "this amendment simply takes funds from beautification and puts them into bridges."
Landscaping and scenic beautification is just one of 12 areas that receive money through the program. Paul's amendment would have barred states from using federal transportation money for any one of the dozen categories, including bike and walking paths, bike lanes and pedestrian safety projects.