The U.S. Senate recently passed the Great American Outdoors Act which could provide much-needed funding to the millions of backlog repairs on the Colonial National Historical Parkway.
The Colonial Parkway has accumulated more than $433 million in backlog repairs such as road paving, bridge maintenance and marina and waterfront systems, according to Pew Charitable Trusts.
The National Parks Service has struggled to provide the repairs, and millions of dollars of other repairs across the country, due to insufficient funding resources.
The National Parks Service over the past decade has experienced a 14 percent reduction in staffing and chronic underfunding while visitation to national parks continued to grow, according to a news release from the National Parks Conservation Association. As a result, the backlog amount has continued to grow to a national total of nearly $12 billion.
The Great American Outdoors Act passed by a vote of 73-25.
“For five years, NPCA, park advocates and communities across the country have urged Congress to fix our parks,” said Theresa Pierno, president and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association. “NPCA’s members and supporters sent nearly 100,000 letters, made hundreds of phone calls and countless visits to members of Congress. Today, those efforts paid off as we moved closer than ever before to ensuring that our national parks get the funding they need and deserve. This bill is one of our best opportunities to do this in more than 50 years.”
The Great American Outdoors Act will provide $6.5 billion over the next five years which will be dedicated to the infrastructure repair of more than 400 national parks, including the Colonial National Historical Parkway.
Funding would address the highest priority repairs across the country and in Virginia. The Colonial National Parkway has the largest number of backlog repairs out of 19 national parks in Virginia, according to Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), who helped introduce the bill.
There is expected to be an estimated 100,000 jobs created over the next five years to address the infrastructure needs.
The bill will also provide $900 million each year to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which will address the deferred maintenance backlog of the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Indian Education.
“This momentous bill not only provides an opportunity to better care for these treasured places, it will help to increase access to public lands across the country, provide jobs and bring much-needed relief to local communities suffering through hard times,” Pierno said.
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