PORTSMOUTH, R.I. \u2014 The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (DOT) recently presented an amendment to the State Transportation Improvement Plan that includes a 33% cut to the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) over four years.\n\nTAP is the primary source of funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects statewide.\nThe amendment was presented on Jan. 24 to the State Transportation Advisory Committee.\nAccording to a press release from the RI Bicycle Coalition, \u201cWhile RIDOT asserts that shortfalls from the General Assembly\u2019s Capital Budget, delays in constructing toll infrastructure, and deteriorating bridges are the cause of the amendment, very little of the proposed change will fund bridge work. Instead, one new $28.8 million highway project in western Cranston is one of the biggest proposed changes, along with large allocations to build toll gantries ($61.6 million) and \u2018Headquarters Operations\u2019 which includes more than doubling the \u2018Legal\u2019 line item to $24.9 million.\u201d\nThe $27 million in proposed cuts includes eliminating the $5 million Bicycle Improvements Contingency Account funded by the 2016 Green Economy Bond.\nBike Newport\u2019s Executive Director, Bari Freeman, sits on the state\u2019s Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) and Bicycle Mobility Plan Committee, and is a member of the statewide coalition Paths to Progress that advises the state on bicycle and pedestrian project planning and funding.\n\u201cThe TAC created the contingency fund in response to these statewide coalitions and in order to ensure assignment of those funds to align with the statewide Bicycle Mobility Plan priorities. Those funds are untouchable. Our state electorate resoundingly voted those funds for bicycle and pedestrian projects by 79%,\u201d Freeman stated. \u201cThat\u2019s not approval - that\u2019s a mandate, and they will not be redirected to highway or any project other than those for which they were intended.\u201d\nThe proposed amendment eliminates, cuts or delays funding to 35 bicycle and pedestrian projects statewide, including separated bike paths, sidewalks, and critical on-road connections.\nOn Aquidneck Island, the Melville Connector and the Mount Hope Bay Path in Portsmouth will be eliminated; the shared use path and sidewalks on East Main Road in Portsmouth and Middletown will be eliminated; and scheduled improvements to Thames Street, Spring Street, Farewell Street, Bellevue Avenue, and Marlborough Street in Newport will be delayed to 2023 and beyond.\nPortsmouth Town Councilor Daniela Abbott is one of many bicycle and pedestrian advocates opposed to the cuts.\n\u201cEast Main Road is finally getting the sidewalks and bike paths so desperately overdue for transportation safety," said Abbott. "These cuts are not considering people\u2019s safety, connectivity, or economy. RIDOT needs to, and will be, better informed by the people of this state who intend to walk and ride to get where we\u2019re going.\u201d\nBike Newport and Aquidneck Island Planning Commission are planning community information and discussion meetings to take place in addition to the upcoming public meetings scheduled by RIDOT.\nThese meeting dates will be announced next week.