Compromise on Transportation Reauthorization Fails to Advance Critical Transportation Reform


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.”


The House and Senate are debating transportation today. What will they decide?

Right now, a small group of House and Senate leaders are negotiating their proposed transportation bills, and plan to bring a final bill before Congress in the coming weeks. Their decisions today have the potential to shape our communities for decades to come.

Can you take a moment to call your Senators and Representative? Let them know you want the conference committee to preserve the strong, bipartisan provisions contained in the Senate’s transportation bill MAP-21.


Speak out for Main Streets in the Senate transportation bill

Last week, the House of Representatives introduced their surface transportation reauthorization bill. Their proposal, H.R. 7, the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, threatens to derail federal funding for public transportation, and we’re still fighting to change their proposed bill. If you were one of the many supporters who spoke out against H.R. 7, thank you.

This week, the Senate has begun working on its version of the bill and we need your help to make it as strong as possible.

A bipartisan amendment to the Senate bill sponsored by Senator Cardin of Maryland and Senator Cochran of Mississippi would give local governments a larger say over a share of state transportation dollars. This change to the current bill would give local leaders a greater voice and more direct access to money for projects like main street revitalization.

Will you speak out for Main Streets in the Senate transportation bill? Click here to send a letter to your Senators.

As it’s currently written, the Senate bill would take the limited funds once dedicated to improving safety and conditions for people on foot and bike, and transfer them to state departments of transportation for expensive highway construction instead.

The Senate vote could happen as soon as this week, and this amendment is one of the most important that we’ll see. By setting money aside, the Cardin-Cochran amendment would ensure local communities can get the money they need for the projects they want.

Take one minute to send a message to your Senators: Ask them to support the Cardin-Cochran amendment today.

If you think our transportation bill should give communities the resources they need to build Main Streets that are attractive to businesses, pedestrian friendly and safer for everyone using them, tell your Senator to sponsor this amendment.


Call your Representatives to oppose a House transportation bill so "uniquely bad" it "defies belief"

Today, thousands of people from across the country are calling their representatives in the House to urge them to vote “NO” vote on HR 7, the House transportation bill. The House bill would eliminate dedicated funding for public transportation – a crucial component of smart growth development – and negatively impact business expansion and job creation when America needs them most. The bill would also eliminate the tiny amount of funding that helps make dangerous streets and roads safer for pedestrians, cyclsts and drivers alike. The bill fails to go far enough to fix the country’s bridges and roads, and also fails to create more options for getting around.

America needs an updated federal transportation bill, but this proposal is not it. Join the fight to improve this bill by calling your Representative today.

Today, Smart Growth America and Transportation for America are part of a massive national call-in day rallying opposition to this bill from an unbelievably broad set of groups. Environmental activists, business leaders, labor union members, transit riders and transit workers, elected officials – the list keeps growing, and we all agree that the House bill makes two steps backward for every step forward.


Smart Growth America stands with Transportation for America in opposition to House energy and transportation bill

Last week, the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, along with a companion measure eliminating dedicated funding for public transportation. James Corless, Director of Transportation for America, released the following statement:

“For more than three years, our coalition has worked hard for an updated federal transportation program that meets our needs in the 21st century; that creates jobs and lays the foundation for a rejuvenated economy; that balances the need to keep our highway system strong while augmenting it with other options. We still remain urgently committed to that goal.

“It is with deep disappointment, therefore, that we in the Transportation for America coalition find ourselves compelled to oppose the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act as advanced by House leadership. While we commend Chairman Mica (R-FL) for doing what he can to move a long-term transportation bill forward, the full legislation that is now heading to the floor of the House has significant fatal flaws.


Ways and Means Proposal Would Derail How America Gets To Work And Put Public Transportation On Life Support

Americans take 10 billion public transportation trips every year to and from home, work, grocery stores, schools, and medical offices. These trips literally and physically move the nation’s economy. That economic engine is about to hit a wall. If new Ways and Means Committee legislation to fund the surface transportation authorization passes, public transportation would … Continued


Contact your Representative TODAY to protect federal transit funding

Dedicated funding for public transit is in a fight for its life.

Late last night, the House of Representative’s Ways and Means Committee released their proposal for a federal surface transportation bill. The bill would eliminate dedicated funding for public transit and jeopardize these funds for years to come.

Speak out for transit: Send a messge to your Representative today.

Removing the guarantee on funding would mean that transit would have to compete each year for general fund revenues. As Congress looks for ways to slash federal funding, this change puts transit funding in danger of deep cuts in coming years.

Help fight this proposed bill: send a message to your Representative today.

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have supported dedicated transit funding as a way to relieve congestion and help workers reach jobs quickly, efficiently and affordably. As the American economy slowly recovers, demand for transit has been rising across the country – and now is not the time to jeopardize federal support for these programs.

Contacting your members of Congress is simple and only takes a few minutes. Help defend dedicated funding for transit: Click here to send a letter to your Representative.


House Transportation Bill slashes safety funding, but there's a chance to fix it

Today the House released its draft transportation bill to the public. Our colleagues at Transportation for America are still evaluating the overall bill, but we have a chance in the next 24 hours to help fix America’s bridges and restore the dedicated funding that makes our roads safer for people on foot or bike, which has been eliminated.

We need your help: tell your Representative to support two amendments that would restore funding for safe biking and walking, and make repairing our deficient bridges a priority.

The House committee that wrote the bill will vote on it Thursday morning, and they will decide in less than 48 hours what to change before approving it and moving it to the full House for a vote.

The bill fails to require states to put a priority on fixing the country’s 69,000 deficient bridges before spending money on new highways. In just the next 48 hours before the committee votes, there will be more than 565 million trips taken across deficient bridges in the U.S. That’s enough cars to line them up end to end from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. and back…267 times.

Tell your Representative to support safety and repair amendments in the Transportation bill: click here to send a letter to your member of Congress.


Summary of the Senate MAP-21 transportation bill proposal

Crossposted from Transportation for America.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee released a draft of the transportation bill late Friday. The EPW committee’s portion of the bill covers what’s known as the “highway” title. (The Banking Committee is responsible for writing the “transit” title and the Commerce Committee covers rail and safety. Those sections of the bill have not been released yet.)

We’ve prepared a short few pages on what MAP-21 means for the federal transportation program. This top-line analysis is a bit on the wonky side, but hopefully it’ll be helpful if you’ve been trying to summarize the 600 pages of bill text.

One of the most visible changes MAP-21 makes is to restructure seven core highway programs and 13+ formula programs into just five core highway programs. This graphic below illustrates those changes. Read on for the full summary, which you can also download here. (PDF)


New report from Transportation for America ranks deficient bridges by metro areas

Crossposted from Transportation for America, a campaign of Smart Growth America.

A new look at structurally deficient bridges in metropolitan areas finds that just a quarter of U.S. bridges, located in our largest metropolitan areas, carry 75 percent of all traffic crossing a deficient bridge each day.

On the heels of the sudden closure of a major commuting bridge in Louisville, KY, a new report shows that more than 18,000 of the nation’s busiest bridges, clustered in the nation’s metro areas, are rated as “structurally deficient,” according to this new report from Transportation for America.

In Los Angeles, for example, an average 396 drivers cross a deficient bridge every second, the study found. The Fix We’re In For: The State of Our Nation’s Busiest Bridges, ranks 102 metro areas in three population categories based on the percentage of deficient bridges.

The report found that Pittsburgh, PA had the highest percentage of deficient bridges (30.4 percent) for a metro area with a population of over 2 million (and overall). Oklahoma City, OK (19.8 percent) topped the chart for metro areas between 1-2 million, as did Tulsa, OK (27.5 percent) for metro areas between 500,000-1 million.

At the other end of the spectrum, the metro areas that had the smallest percentage of deficient bridges are: Orlando, FL (0.60 percent) for the largest metro areas; Las Vegas (0.20 percent) for mid-sized metro areas; and Fort Myers, FL (0.30 percent) for smaller metro areas.

“There are more deficient bridges in our metropolitan areas than there are McDonald’s restaurants in the entire country,” said James Corless, director of Transportation for America, 18,239 versus roughly 14,000 McDonald’s. “These metropolitan-area bridges are most costly and difficult to fix, but they also are the most urgent, because they carry such a large share of the nation’s people and goods.”