Peninsula, Ohio — Dozens of national parks and other public lands throughout the country will be able to invest in new ways to move visitors through their facilities thanks to nearly $20 million in federal funding announced today by the U.S. Departments of the Interior and Transportation.
Deputy Interior Secretary Lynn Scarlett and Federal Transit Administrator James S. Simpson made the announcement during a visit today to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park outside Cleveland, Ohio. Scarlett and Simpson, who were joined by other federal, state and local officials for the announcement, said today’s grants would be followed by more grants over the next four years that will ultimately total $97 million.
The new Alternative Transportation In the Parks and Public Lands program (ATTPL) program was established under Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy of Users of 2005 (SAFETEA-LU).
“The ATPPL Program will help us develop new alternatives for enjoying our parks and public lands while protecting our resources,” said Scarlett. “More visitors enjoy our parks and public lands each year and this program provides an additional tool to help enhance the visitor experience.”
The new program to fund transportation in the national parks, will help conserve natural, historical, and cultural resources; reduce congestion and pollution; improve visitor mobility and accessibility; enhance the visitors’ experience; and ensure access to all, including persons with disabilities, Scarlett and Simpson said. They noted that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and 13 partners also will benefit from the new funds.
“Americans should be free to enjoy our national parks without having to worry about being stuck in traffic,” said Administrator Simpson. “These grants will give travelers more ways to view America’s true splendor.”
Deputy Secretary Scarlett and Administrator Simpson both noted that Maryland Senator Paul Sarbanes had championed the new transportation program and thanked him for his work to secure the funding as part of last year’s 6-year surface transportation legislation.
Before announcing the grants, Simpson and Scarlett were given a briefing on how park officials use the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad to move thousands of visitors a year through the Ohio park. The park will receive nearly $900,000 to make improvements to the railroad including the upgrade of railroad signals at grade crossings, and for the purchase of a railroad maintenance vehicle and an Americans with Disability Act accessible railcar.
The two federal officials noted that the grants would fund 42 different projects in 21 states and Puerto Rico. For example, the grants will help finance the purchase of alternative-fuel specialty trams for the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia, shuttle buses for California’s San Joaquin Valley to Sequoia National Park, and the planning of an alternative transportation system for the Forest Service’s Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.