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Transportation Community’s Response to House Republicans’ Reauthorization Proposal

Posted by Steve Anderson on Monday, July 11th, 2011

On Thursday, July 7th, Republican leaders of the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure submitted a six-year transportation reauthorization proposal.  According to their summary:

This fiscally responsible, multi-year proposal follows these clear mandates from the American people and creates long-term jobs by:

  • Better leveraging and maximizing the value of limited federal resources,
  • Streamlining the project approval process,
  • Reforming our federal transportation programs,
  • Reducing the federal bureaucracy,
  • Improving programs that don’t work while building upon programs that work well, and
  • Providing flexibility to states to address their own unique, critical infrastructure needs.

According to House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman, John L. Mica, “This long-term plan is the only fiscally responsible proposal and will ensure the continued solvency of the Highway Trust Fund.”

The transportation community responded with mixed opinions, but many are concerned:

“This proposed legislation features many reforms that state departments of transportation support, including consolidation of federal transportation programs resulting in greater focus on our core mission; strategies that will accelerate project delivery so states can deliver critical transportation projects faster; tools to leverage transportation funds so states can generate more value from public infrastructure investments; and distribution of nearly all federal highway funding by formula to state DOTs.”
John Horseley, Executive Director, AASHTO

“We commend Chairman Mica and his fellow drafters on the push to get this long-stalled bill moving, and we appreciate the effort to consolidate programs, leverage non-federal resources and deliver projects more quickly. However, we are skeptical that investments at this level can meet the country’s infrastructure needs.”
-James Corless, Director, Transportation for America

“…The Chairman’s efforts to expand project financing, streamline project delivery, and simplify federal grant programs are important components of the proposal.   However, the bill’s investment levels, which are severely limited under the House-passed budget resolution and its rules, are woefully short of what is required to address the nation’s surface transportation infrastructure investment needs.”
-William Millar, President, American Public Transportation Association

“…the Republicans are offering a plan that slashes the budget for critical transportation and infrastructure spending in this county. Their proposal jeopardizes the safety of our traveling public, will cost us nearly 500,000 jobs, and puts us at an economic disadvantage with our competitor nations.”
-Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit

“We applaud the fact that Chairman Mica recognizes states and cities want certainty when it comes to long-term transportation funding but this proposal shows a significant cut from current funding levels.  Many of the announced policy reforms are welcomed as they will ensure tax dollars are invested more wisely and efficiently.  We hope the House can work with the Senate to find an acceptable bill with adequate funding levels to rebuild and repair our crumbling roads, bridges, and transit systems.”
Marcia Hale, President, Building America’s Future

While NTPP has consistently recognized the need for greater investment in the nation’s transportation infrastructure, scarce resources are also a reality in the current fiscal environment, and we have to do better with the resources that we have…Chairman Mica is correct that we should not spend more than we collect in revenues. Indeed, if the current environment makes new revenues unlikely, reforms to the federal surface transportation programs are even more urgent.”
-Emil Frankel, Director of Transportation Policy, Bipartisan Policy Center

“Rep. John Mica’s proposed transportation bill would take a machete to federal transportation spending, cutting overall transportation funding by a third and entirely eliminating dedicated funds for pedestrian and bike infrastructure.”
Noah Kassis, Streetsblog.org


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