Roadblocks to Reauthorization
• The general fund transfer should be paid for.
• It should include state and Metropolitan Planning Organization capacity-building measures.
• As appropriate, it should include measures to improve regional mobility and access the livability of all communities.
The $20-billion transfer, DOT said, will be paid for via spending cuts and revenue increases, but was vague on details.
Although Senate support for an extension seems firm, members of the House are giving the idea a cool reception. More than 40 Democratic members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure drafted and signed a blunt letter expressing to President Obama their “profound disappointment” in the extension proposal. They noted that 61,000 miles of the National Highway System are in poor or fair condition, that 152,000 bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and that 32,500 public transit buses and vans have exceeded their useful life.
“The administration’s business-as-usual approach, with multiple extensions passed before the enactment of a new multi-year highway, highway safety, and transit authorization act, is unacceptable. That is the failed experience of the past,” they wrote.
“We have a significant opportunity to address the long-term issues impacting our highways and transit systems, and a drawn-out, piecemeal approach to fixing our transportation network will not work.
“We are ready. We have a transformational bill. We will move it through our Committee. We hope to work with your administration; we have requested and continue to welcome your input in finalizing this important legislation in the weeks ahead.”
Web Exclusive Sidebar: Simple Solutions
If passed, the Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009 would consolidate or terminate more than 75 programs. Most highway funding would be provided under four, core formula categories, including the following:
• Critical Asset Investment: Consolidates the existing Interstate Maintenance program, National Highway Systems program, and Highway Bridge program into one streamlined program whose goal is to bring the highways and bridges on the NHS to a state of good repair and maintain that condition.
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