Senate Adopts MAP-21 Transportation Bill

Caitlin Ghoshal's picture

The Senate approved a two-year surface transportation bill, successfully attracting bipartisan support needed to avoid a potential shutdown at the end of the month. The House continues to work on a bill with a longer timeline - five years - but has been beleagured by debate and conflicting interests. The Senate's MAP-21 bill makes several key reforms, such as establishing goals and performance metrics for multimodal travel options and prioritizes planning for walkable neighborhoods. While sustainable transportation advocates can suggest many ways to improve MAP-21, many hope the bill serves as a blueprint for the House to create a similar bill that puts surface transportation funding on more stable ground.

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For more coverage...

For more coverage, visit T4America's terrific blog with detailed analysis on the Senate and House bills: http://t4america.org/blog/

Crain's also offers a quick assessment for Chicago locals: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20120314/BLOGS02/120319887/u-s-senate-oks-109-billion-road-transit-funding-bill

Senate Adopts Trans Bill retaining status quo

A little over 3 years ago just after Barack Obama was elected, optimism for positive transportation change( defined as a bigger share for transit) was widespread. However, the 2010 election, which reduced the Democratic majority in the Senate and brought the GOP in control in the House, changed those expectations. T for America and other groups like Reconnecting America went from being on the offensive to a more defensive posture. Hope for enriching transit's share of Fed funds above 20% became an effort to keep it at 20%. Many newly elected GOP governors attacked transit funding in their states. For example, Wisconsin's Scott Walker and GOP majorities in both houses of the Wi. Legislature eliminated gas tax funding for transit and moved all the money to fund a big increase in new highway construction.

Considering the new situation T for America, Reconnecting America and Smart Growth America did a great job and helped defend Fed transit in the Senate version of the Transportation bill. If the GOP House goes along then the status quo on Fed appropriations for transit will be preserved. This is probably the best that could be expected considering the partisan split in Congress. There are still a few Republicans who see the value of transit and trains. Senator Mark Kirk R Illinois is one. Congressman John Mica of Florida is another, but it's hard to list many others. It's strange that US conservatives are so anti transit when political conservatives governing in places like Switzerland and Sweden support transit as a valuable component to value creation. If you want to help contact your Congressional Representative today and tell them to vote for the Senate version of the Transport bill.

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