The crafting of the next federal transportation spending bill is finally underway after literally years of delay due mostly to partisan politics.
The U.S. House version of the bill was released earlier this month with elements of America Fast Forward, which would enshrine in federal law the kind of federal loans and financing that Metro needs to accelerate the construction of Measure R transit projects.
And now the Senate’s bill is starting to take shape, with similar good news: America Fast Forward made the cut, although this isn’t surprising considering that Senator Barbara Boxer has a big hand in shaping the Senate’s version of the bill and has also been an ardent supporter of AFF.
A word of warning: between the House and Senate bills, there still is not everything that Metro needs for AFF to work to its full extent.
Here’s the summary of the Senate version of the bill from Metro’s government relations staff:
America Fast Forward Element Included in Senate Transportation Bill
The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), under the leadership of Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), has released an outline of a two year surface transportation bill that includes elements of our agency’s America Fast Forward initiative.
Formally known as “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” (MAP-21), the outline includes a section entitled America Fast Forward that reflects a dramatic increase in the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation (TIFIA) program. MAP-21 would maintain current levels of highway and transit spending, which is in contrast to a draft six-year House bill, which would cut federal transportation funding by approximately 30%. MAP-21 would also seek to consolidate nearly 90 existing federal transportation programs to less than three dozen programs.
Senate Transportation Hearing Will Feature Testimony by Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has called a hearing of her committee this Thursday to discuss her plans with respect to the nation’s next surface transportation bill. The hearing, entitled “Legislative Issues For Transportation Reauthorization,” will feature testimony by seven witnesses, including Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa. Among others testifying are Gary Ridley, Secretary of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and Deron Lovaas, Transportation Policy Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. The current extension of our nation’s last surface transportation bill [SAFETEA-LU] expires on September 30, 2011.