Dear Federal Leaders:
The COVID crisis is eroding our nation’s public health and our economy at levels not seen in decades. As we work to brighten the light at the end of this tunnel, we need to act in a way that addresses key dimensions of the crisis.
Relief programs during the lockdown period such as the PPP loan program have been key. As we look toward recovery in 2021, our nation needs to make visionary infrastructure investments that spur strong economic recovery and a healthy, equitable future.
Expanding highways doesn't do it. The public is already showing us a path that does. People are using greenways and trails across the country more than ever as they strive to maintain their mental and physical health. Greenways have become essential paths to healing. In fact, by providing a safe space for all to exercise outdoors, greenways address leading factors to COVID severity such as obesity and Vitamin D deficiency.
There has never been a more critical moment for our nation to invest in this equitable public space. Greenway infrastructure investment has the highest return for our economy in terms of jobs (50 percent more per dollar than highways) and for our community in terms of health, emissions reduction for environmental sustainability and economic growth. Recent studies show a more than ten-fold return on investment along the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway from Maine to Florida, which has become the most visited park in the country this year. And it is not alone. Accessible greenway networks in metropolitan areas all over the country are benefiting their public health and economies.
We applaud the recent passage of the Great American Outdoors Act to maintain our parks and acquire key land for preservation and public enjoyment. Now our country needs to put people to work through $10 billion in infrastructure investment for safe active transportation that connect all 50 states across America from our biggest cities to our smallest towns, from our cultural heritage corridors to our wild national parks. The resulting people-centered transportation network has the potential to generate $100 billion in return for all to enjoy, spurring economic recovery by bolstering the growing $1 trillion outdoor recreation economy and lowering costs for those in need.
Such visionary investment would get us out of this crisis in a way that transforms our country to a future marked by health, a strong and more equitable economy, and a cleaner environment. The public wants it. The public needs it. And you have the power to make it possible.
To a healthy recovery for all,
East Coast Greenway Alliance and 180+ supporting organizations
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