What we're watching: Senate Commerce Committee to mark up six-year transportation bill today

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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.

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Join us on Thursday for an inside look at transportation reauthorization in Congress

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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.

Complete Streets LOCUS

DRIVE Act could step up Complete Streets implementation

Indy Mass Ave credit Ian FreimuthThe 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.

Complete Streets

Transit-oriented development financing included in senate transportation reauthorization bill

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

LOCUS

U.S. Transportation Anthony Foxx voices support for transit-oriented development before Senate EPW Committee

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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.”

LOCUS

LOCUS Applauds Inclusion of TOD Financing in Draft Senate Transportation Bill

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.

LOCUS

What the GROW AMERICA Act would mean for smart growth and community development

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.

Complete Streets LOCUS

Smart growth news – July 2, 2012

Congress passes two-year transportation bill
Washington Post 2chambers blog – June 29, 2012
On the eve of the Fourth of July travel rush, Congress agreed Friday to a two-year plan to fund the nation’s transportation projects, as part of a broader package that included resolution of other long-simmering issues.

Transit bill ‘kicks can down the road’
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA) – July 2, 2012
“This is a step backwards,” said James Corless, director of Transportation for America, a broad-based coalition that favors major reforms in transportation spending, in a conference call with reporters last week.

Partnership for Sustainable Communities Marks Three Years Helping Communities Build a Foundation for Prosperity
FastLave via the White House blog – June 29, 2012
Building strong, resilient communities starts with having a great team. In 2009, President Obama challenged us to improve how our agencies work together to help communities around the country better meet their housing, transportation, and environmental goals, laying the groundwork for an economy that provides good jobs now and creates a strong foundation for long-term prosperity.

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Smart growth news – June 29, 2012

Conservative groups rev up opposition to highway bill
The Hill – June 29, 2012
Pressure from groups like the Heritage Foundation’s political arm and the anti-tax Club for Growth raises the possibility that conservatives in the House will put up a roadblock to the long-sought bicameral transportation agreement — and in the process put the brakes on a painstakingly negotiated compromise with the Democratically controlled Senate.

Senate adjourns awaiting House vote on highway bill
The Hill – June 28, 2012
The Senate adjourned Thursday evening without voting on three major pieces of legislation with fast approaching deadlines.

Complete Streets Provision Eliminated From Final Transpo Bill
Streetsblog DC – June 28, 2012
Transportation for America, the big-tent coalition for transportation reform, tends to be careful about the statements it puts out. Its folks are diplomatic, since they work with both sides on the Hill and a wide variety of coalition members. Yesterday, as details of the conference report were leaking out, they wanted to read the whole bill before weighing in publicly. Now that they’ve absorbed it all, they’ve come out swinging. “Senate Capitulates to House Demands,” today’s statement reads, “Eliminates Critical Provisions in Transportation Bill.”

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Compromise on Transportation Reauthorization Fails to Advance Critical Transportation Reform

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 28, 2012

Compromise on Transportation Reauthorization Fails to Advance Critical Transportation Reform
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.”

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