The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted unanimously to approve the draft transportation bill (MAP-21) last week, providing an opportunity to move forward on the long-overdue transportation authorization. Key reforms in the bill include a stronger emphasis on repairing and rebuilding roads and bridges, and performance measures that ensure funds are focused on addressing the backlog of deficient bridges and roads, and also monitor safety, air quality and freight movement. For each of these states and large regions must create targets and report on the progress to meeting these targets.
Move LA applauds the committee for moving ahead, and for maintaining the historic 20 percent share for mass transit as well as the flexibility to use a significant portion of funds for transit and bike and pedestrian projects. And we support the committee’s decision to continue to provide dedicated funding for projects that help improve air quality and reduce congestion in regions with significant air pollution — such as Southern California.
We are particularly excited that funding for the TIFIA program, a key opportunity for the America Fast Forward 30-10 plan, has been expanded from $122 milliion to $1 billion, and that there would be modifications making it easier for public transportation agencies with dedicated revenue sources to apply. The committee decided to base the selection of of projects on a first-come, first-served basis, however, and we believe it would be better if the selection criteria emphasized the performance of projects, like other parts of the bill.
We are also concerned that funding for bicyclists and pedestrians has been reduced. A proposed “reserve” fund within the CMAQ program would both decrease current bike/ped funding by 30 percent and add new projects — including HOV lanes and wetlands mitigation — that could compete for this reduced funding pot.
Lastly, we urge the committee to include more comprehensive workforce development programs and local hire provisions in the bill.
Read Transportation for America’s summary and analysis of the bill (this will be a hot link, amendments made during the bill’s mark-up, and talking points.