Highway-Happy Texas DOT Says El Paso Bike-Share Isn’t Eco Enough
The same state department of transportation that is eagerly pursuing a $5.2 billion third outerbelt for Houston yanked $1.6 million from the city of El Paso this week out of concern that the city’s bike-share plans were not “the most efficient ways to address air quality with limited funding.”
According to the El Paso Times, the city’s Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority was preparing to move forward with bike-share after securing some $400,000 in local funds, including funds from City of El Paso and the University of Texas at El Paso.
But officials from the Texas Department of Transportation indicated this week they were withholding the $1.6 federal match. “TxDOT plans to coordinate conversations with transportation partners to garner more information on how we can dedicate those limited funds to important congestion-mitigation projects around the state,” TxDOT said in a memo said, according to the Times.
Scott White, a member of the city’s bike advocacy group VeloPaso, told the Times he was frustrated at TxDOT’s decision.
“This was a great opportunity for the community of El Paso,” White said. “Austin is getting a program. Fort Worth is barely getting it set up. What is so different with those cities that they get one and we don’t?”
Local officials are scrambling to reason with TxDOT to save the 20-station, 200-bike plan. But it may have to be dramatically scaled back.
Perhaps bike-share in El Paso just doesn’t have enough well-connected monied interests in high positions at TxDOT pushing for it?