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Transportation Bill Provides Mixed Bag for Park System


   The federal highway bill that President Bush signed into law last week carries a mixed bag for the national park system. The good news is that the legislation provides $24 million a year for four years to address public transportation systems, walkways and bike paths in the parks. The bad news is that the bill vastly shorts the park service the funds it needs to overcome its tremendous maintenance backlog.
    While it's nice money has been allocated to improve mass transit in the parks, the roads and bridges those transit systems will utilize face tremendous repair and rehabilitation needs. According to the National Parks Conservation Association, the bill provides just $1.05 billion to address park roads -- a sum that falls roughly $600 million short of the total the president and U.S. Senate said was needed.

    Commonsense doesn't seem to play much of a role in Washington. Part of the park service's overall funding problem is that Congress creates new park service properties yet doesn't adequately fund the agencies to take care of those properties. Now it's saying let's spend nearly $100 million on enhanced transit services, but let's not worry about the needs of the infracture those services will rely on.

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