LETTER: Highway Improvements Needed More Than Bike Paths

By Beacon Staff

Bill Schneider’s recent support for U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was totally irresponsible (Aug. 11 Beacon: “Transportation Policy Takes a Right Turn”) and a disservice to the people of Montana. Schneider supported LaHood’s call to put bike paths on an even par for federally funded road projects.

In Montana today, 20 percent of our bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Eleven percent of our roads are poor to mediocre. In order to grow, Montana needs a strong infrastructure. In Montana that means highways. Over 75 percent of our communities are totally dependent upon highways transportation to deliver our basic necessities – food, clothing, fuel – as well as luxuries.

I vividly recall being in China in the early 1990s when bicycles were the primary source of transportation for most Chinese and their goods. In the 20 years since then, China has invested billions of dollars to develop a first-class highway system highway. This week, China became the second largest economic power. It didn’t get there by bicycle.

If Montana wants to prosper, it needs to make a choice as to where it wants to spend the taxes collected from highway users – supporting the recreational weekend cyclist or improving our highway system. It’s really not a hard choice.

Lana Batts

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