Master plan for bikes, pedestrians almost complete

HARLINGEN — A bicycle-pedestrian transit plan with a horizon 20 years into the future is nearly complete.

The final plan will be presented for approval to the Harlingen-San Benito Metropolitan Planning Organization board on Sept. 14.

The master plan put together for $79,000 lists dozens of projects, from bicycle paths, lanes and shared trails to new sidewalks and crosswalks, which where possible link to current bike lanes or paths and trails in each city.

But where the bike tire rubber hits the road is how the cities come up with the $16.02 million to $58.20 million to pay for it all.

Officials within the 355 square miles covered by the Harlingen-San Benito MPO say the bike-ped master plan is not just a guide but a tool to help cities in western Cameron County qualify for state and federal funding.

For example, a popular source of funding for bike-ped projects is TxDOT’s Transportation Alternative Program, or TAP. In 2014, TAP was funded by the state at $819 million.

Any city can apply for a TAP grant to build a bike path or lane, or a shared-use path for bikes and pedestrians.

But having a bike-ped master plan provides a big competitive edge.

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