Bike Share program may be defunded; money may be moved to other program

Bike Share program may be defunded; money may be moved to other program

POSTED: Sunday, September 29, 2013 - 9:51pm

UPDATED: Sunday, September 29, 2013 - 9:52pm

A bike share program supporters say would ease congestion and get El Pasoans healthier -- may not even get off the ground. The program may lose federal funding and a local group is blaming TX DOT for withholding federal funds.

El Paso City Council, UTEP, and the Metropolitan Planning Organization have already approved the bike share program and they've already put aside more than $400,000.

The bike share program would allow subscribers the chance to use public bikes then leave them in docks throughout El Paso. VELO Paso, a local group and stakeholder with the program, who organizes pedestrians and bicyclists alike, said the only thing that's stopping this program from peddling forward is TX DOT’s refusal to funnel the $1.6 million of federal money into the program.

Only a handful of cities in the u-s have bike share programs. "Instead of trying to tear this program down, we should be celebrating it,” Bennett Foster, President with VELO Paso told us. El Paso is on the verge of getting a program comparable to major cities like Austin. However, according to VELO Paso, one state agency is holding back the funds necessary to get the program rolling. "The only hold up is TX Dot."

During Tuesday’s city council meeting, City representatives will discuss the future of bike share and where $1.6 million of federal CMAQ money will go -- Bike share or a program called P3 which aims to ease congestion around El Paso’s international bridges.

"It's a great program that not only would work downtown but would also work in other parts, of other parts of the city as well,” City Representative Eddie Holguin, who represents the East Side to the Mission Valley said. Holguin, along with other city council members voted unanimously for the bike share program. "The city throughout the years has tried to get people to travel and other forms of transportation."

City reps have been told the federal money needs to be used by the end of the year or the city will lose access to it. "Lots of money that comes from the state always comes with conditions. It obviously has to be spent within a certain time."

However, VELO Paso claimed city reps have been misled by TX DOT. "There is no deadline in the future. That money gets rolled over into the 2014 federal budget,” Foster said.

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