Later today the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation is scheduled to mark up the Comprehensive Transportation and Consumer Protection Act of 2015 (S. 1732), a proposed six-year transportation reauthorization. As we’ve mentioned here before, the federal transportation bill has huge implications for development across the country. Here’s what we’ll be looking for during today’s proceedings.
Federal transportation bill
The current federal transportation bill will expire on July 31, 2015. In the coming weeks Congress will negotiate about dozens of programs and debate how to fund billions of dollars worth of projects. What will the current political landscape mean for local transportation projects, Complete Streets, and transit-oriented development?
Join Smart Growth America and Transportation for America for a special open conversation about what’s happening right now in transportation policy this Thursday, July 16, 2015 at 4:00 PM EDT.
The Cultural Trail in Indianapolis, IN exemplifies design flexibility in creating streets that are safe and inviting for walking, bicycling, and driving. Photo by Ian Freimuth.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously approved its draft six-year bill, the DRIVE Act, this week. Included in the bill are several provisions that would provide the long-term stability that states, regions, and local communities need to plan and build good projects and offers important steps forward for safe, multimodal streets.
Today, the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee unanimously approved its six-year, $275 billion transportation reauthorization bill, the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act. LOCUS Director Christopher Coes made the following statement: “The Senate took an important first step towards passing vital transportation and infrastructure legislation that will increase private … Continued
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works this morning on a number of issues related to the next transportation bill. Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) asked the Secretary what role, if any, transit-oriented development should play.
“When you build a transit station, it captures the imagination of real estate developers,” Secretary Foxx replied, “and they start to build dense developments and bring amenities to communities. I would urge that we do more to partner with local communities, and to help them develop the tools to utilize land use opportunities.”
Yesterday, Senate EPW Chairman Barbara Boxer (CA) and Ranking Member David Vitter (LA) released a draft bipartisan six-year, transportation reauthorization.
For the first time, the bill includes a transit-oriented development (TOD) financing provision that LOCUS has strongly supported. As proposed, the TOD financing provisions provide local communities the tools needed to leverage greater private sector investment and economic development around public transportation through the highly successful TIFIA program.
Yesterday the Obama Administration sent Congress its proposal for a four-year federal transportation bill—the GROW AMERICA Act. The current bill, MAP-21, is set to expire at the end of September, and the new bill has implications for highway and rail construction as well as economic development programs like TIGER grants. How would these proposals impact community development and smart growth?
The good news
The bill includes several promising policies for smart growth advocates.
First and foremost, it would require cities and states to consider all modes of travel when designing federally funded roads, provisions very similar to those proposed in the Safe Streets Act. This strategy gets the most out of federally funded projects, makes sure a given project best meets a community’s needs, and supports neighborhoods with a wide range of transportation choices—all things that Smart Growth America supports.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 28, 2012
Conference report does not represent major improvement to existing law, lacks significant “fix-it-first” and bike-pedestrian safety measures
WASHINGTON DC — After weeks of negotiations to resolve differences between the House and Senate, the two bodies’ conferees have released a transportation reauthorization. That conference report, now moving toward a vote in Congress, represents a significant downgrade to existing services and fails to provide the kind of visionary, gamechanging transportation reform America deserves.
“The conference report is a disappointment,” says Smart Growth America President and CEO Geoffrey Anderson. “It compromises safety, it doesn’t do anything to ensure that roads and bridges are repaired and maintained, and it bypasses the kinds of innovative transportation solutions that we should expect out of a new transportation reauthorization.”
Over the past month, members of Congress have been negotiating details of the federal transportation bill. Now, members of the House of Representatives have proposed allowing states to opt out of a program that would let communities make it safer to walk to public transportation, revitalize a Main Street or create bike trails for families.
The House proposal would eliminate the small amount of money going directly to metropolitan areas, and would let state-level leaders decide whether communities ever see a dime of this funding. The move is slap in the face of city councils, mayors, and county leaders from across the country on both sides of the aisle who are creating the great neighborhoods so many Americans already know and love.
The Senate voted today on its version of the federal surface transportation bill, passing the measure 74-22. The two-year, $109 billion bill includes several key provisions Smart Growth America supports:
- The bill invests in repair for aging transportation infrastructure. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials most recently gave the U.S. an embarassingly low “D” for its infrastructure. Constructed decades ago to help connect a growing economy, our infrastructure is now holding us back. Investing in repair is also a wise financial decision: as Smart Growth America’s report Repair Priorities explained, investing in road preservation and repair makes the most of existing resources and limits future liabilities.
- The bill will help communities improve their Main Streets through funding opportunities for revitalization projects. Simple things like streetscape improvements can support local businesses and town centers across the country.
- The bill will give communities the choice to create safe and low cost transportation options, like sidewalks and bike paths. This provision is particularly important as gas prices continue to climb.
- The bill encourages states to develop complete streets polices, that make streets safer and more convenient for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike.
- The bill takes critical steps toward a performance-based system that will make our transportation system more efficient and effective, and help make sure our national investments are sound.