Every few years, Congress must come together and pass a massive transportation spending bill that lays out the nation’s priorities. The last such bill was signed into law by President Bush in 2005 and was due for renewal last year.
Instead, the last bill has been extended while talk of the new bill has recently picked up steam. In that vein, both Senator Barbara Boxer and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood have announced they are holding a town hall type meeting on the bill at Metro on Feb. 19.
Here’s the announcement from Metro CEO Art Leahy’s daily email to staff:
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer will hold an outreach meeting in our Board Room on February 19, 2010 that will be focused on efforts related to the authorization of our nation’s next surface transportation bill. The outreach meeting will bring together a variety of transportation stakeholders to discuss a range of matters that will be addressed in the next authorization bill, including: goods movement and economic development, livability and sustainability matters, safety, among other issues. During a portion of the outreach meeting, Secretary LaHood and Senator Boxer plan to hold a town hall discussion on how Congress and the Administration can advance a strong surface transportation bill in the future. The U.S. Department of Transportation has cordially invited all Board members to participate in their surface transportation reauthorization outreach meeting. For your review, please find attached your invitation and a draft agenda for the February 19th outreach meeting.
Why is this a big deal? There has been talk in Congress — particularly from Rep. James Oberstar, the Minnesotan who chairs the House’s Transportation Committee — of greatly increasing the amount of money in the bill for mass transit and high-speed rail.
Both, of course, are of great interest to Metro, which plans to build several new transit and freeway projects in the next decade and is involved in building high-speed rail in Los Angeles County.