Monday, March 21, 2011

On the Legislative Horizon for Transportation

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

AASHTO's newsletter covers the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's budget views and estimates for the next fiscal year. AASHTO's synopsis of the 30-page report was that the committee's message is to make do with less, adding that "[t]he document speaks in broad policy terms and does not provide recommended funding levels."

AASHTO correctly observes that while the committee is interested in the highway trust fund and the gap between revenue and funding needs, and addresses this issue specifically, the committee does not provide a detailed proposal of its own.

The T&I Committee offers its views about a few particular issues. The committee supports the Administration's proposal to streamline certain surface transportation programs. It recommends reducing the Essential Air Service program to rural areas due to near-empty flights. The committee particularly takes issue with Amtrak, its management and cost effectiveness, while announcing its acknowledgment of the importance of the Northeast Corridor to the nation's economic vitality.
[Flickr photo by Wally Gobetz. Sheepshead Bay, an express station on the BMT Brighton Line serving the B (formerly D) and Q lines, was opened in 1908.]

Regional Perspective on Transportation Policy and Spending

Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations
AMPO posts letters to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee from four planning organizations. The letters are from:
* Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments in Oregon,
* Metropolitan Transportation Commission for the San Francisco Bay area,
* Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and
* A Columbus, Ohio area partnership comprised of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, the Columbus Partnership, the Columbus Chamber, the Columbus Regional Airport Authority, and the Central Ohio Transit Authority.
The letters trumpet the importance of transportation, its infrastructure and transit to the nation's economy and to the vitality of regions.

Priorities of Counties

National Association of Counties
NACO's legislative conference concluded with new policy positions. These include opposition to proposed reductions in the Department of Agriculture's economic development program, community development block grants, and discretionary - non-military spending. NACO has a whole list of recommendations on environmental issues, with suggestions that county governments not suffer unfunded mandates. NACO supports the Administration's wireless innovations fund proposal. As for transportation, the only recommendation relates to roads that access or pass through certain federal lands.

NACO's 2011 legislative priorities include transportation reauthorization.
Congress should develop a comprehensive legislative effort to create jobs by providing robust funding for bridges, highways, mass transit, assistance for rural roads and other local infrastructure needs by reauthorizing the highway, transit, and safety programs. Congress should explore the various financing sources available to fully fund the Highway Trust Fund into the future while addressing metropolitan congestion and rural road safety. Enactment of these programs will help build our nation’s infrastructure and create additional employment opportunities.

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