InTransition Magazine
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InTransition Magazine : Transportation Planning, Practice & Progress

Archive Edition

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Differing Views of MAP-21

Note to readers: The following are some of the many reactions InTransition received after Congress compromised on the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) bill.

Bike/Ped Funding Cuts Bad for Nation’s Health

[MAP-21] will take our nation’s transportation policy several steps backwards. In addition, the bill does not adequately fund active transportation programs, falling short of promoting activities known to keep people happy, healthy and productive.

By weakening review protections for new highway projects aimed at promoting transparency and public oversight of taxpayer dollars, this agreement makes it more difficult for local officials to have their voices heard in favor of protecting public safety and curbing harmful vehicular emissions.

In addition, the approach taken by this bill in reducing funding available for safe bicycle and pedestrian projections, the Safe Routes to School program, and other community projects aimed at promoting active transportation choices represents a failure to take advantage of the opportunity to ensure transportation policy achieves its mission and improves public health. If the nation continues to ignore health when making policy decisions, like education, transportation, housing and others, today’s children, for the first time ever, will be doomed to live less healthier lives than their parents.

Jeff Levi
Executive Director, Trust
for America’s Health,
Washington, D.C.

Bill Provides Certainty, for Now

highway construction

While we fully understand that the House and Senate did what they could to get a bill passed, we also want to remind them that there is still more work to be done. The comprehensive infrastructure investment our country needs requires a long-term strategic vision and a well-structured, sustainable funding mechanism in order to be effective. The much-needed two years of market certainty provided by the legislation passed in Congress today should be used by all to continue working on a more effective infrastructure solution to keep America strong and competitive for years to come.

Rusty Fowler
Chair, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, Milwaukee, Wisc.

A Victory for the Economy

The passage of the 27-month trans- portation bill ends nearly three years’ worth of temporary extensions that have made it increasingly difficult for state and local officials to plan for, fund and execute major new infrastructure projects. The new highway and transit bill should allow construction to finally begin on many long-delayed, yet vital, projects. In addition, this bill will make it easier for a host of long-contemplated projects to move through a regulatory review process that until now was hopelessly inefficient.

Passing this measure is a significant victory for construction workers, commuters, shippers and the economy. These legislative accomplishments must be seen, however, as the start of a broader effort to address the long-term funding challenges that still threaten the federal transportation program.

Stephen E. Sandherr
CEO, Associated General Contractors of America, Arlington, Va.

Bill Must Only Be Step One

In the short term, the bill will provide stability in federal funding for state and local transportation projects. The elimination of earmarks should also accelerate the speed at which federal funds impact the market for transportation improvements. That’s the good news.

highway construction

The bad news is there is no new money. And even with their federal funds, we are now in a situation where 28 states have invested less in highway and bridge projects over the past 12 months than they did in pre-recession 2008, even when adjusted for inflation.

We view this bill—as we believe congressional leaders do—as just “Step One,” which is making the significant program and policy reforms needed to restore public confidence in how the federal government is investing their money in transportation and mobility. “Step Two” is coming to grips with how to fund the nation’s investments in transportation infrastructure and mobility over the longer term. That tough job remains. And it will require the same bipartisan, bicameral leadership and cooperation that was ultimately demonstrated on this bill. 

Our mission is crystal clear: to do everything possible to ensure that the proper level of transportation investment is viewed as a core priority as the looming larger discussion and legislative activity begins in earnest on Capitol Hill to define the proper role of the federal government in the 21st century and how it utilizes the public’s money.

Pete Ruane
President and CEO, American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), Washington, D.C.

Comprehensive Reforms Were Avoided

[MAP-21] is a disappointment. It compromises safety, it is a step backwards in how we take care of and repair our roads and bridges, and it bypasses the kinds of innovative transportation solutions that we should expect out of a new transportation reauthorization.

This bill does not improve upon existing law and does not provide necessary accountability for taxpayer dollars. Comparatively, the Senate’s former transportation bill, passed with bipartisan support, was a major step forward in providing the kinds of multi-modal transportation and infrastructure investments that our country needs and that our citizens want. That bill not only guaranteed minimum levels of investment would go to maintaining our highway and bridge infrastructure, but also made dramatic improvements to how we address safety and national freight issues.
The country needs comprehensive transportation reform, not a stopgap measure. There was hope that we would achieve that in 2012, but this bill falls well short of expectations.

Geoffrey Anderson
President and CEO,
Smart Growth America

Truckers Applaud Safety Protections

This legislation, while not all we could have hoped for as an industry and as users of the highway system, makes tremendous strides in the safety arena and puts down a marker for future improvements to our nation’s freight infrastructure. Despite misinformation from a vocal minority, the conferees have set our industry on the path to even greater improvements in safety by requiring the Department of Transportation to mandate that truck drivers use electronic devices to record their compliance with the hours of service requirements. This is a tremendous leap forward for trucking, which will bring our compliance systems into the 21st Century, leveling the playing field for our industry and lead to even fewer crashes on our nation’s highways.

While there is much to like about this bill, ATA is extremely disappointed that Congress has once again kicked the can down the road with respect to truck productivity. By giving into fear-based misinformation, this bill delays the deployment of some of our industry’s safest, most fuel efficient trucks. We fully expect this latest study to confirm what numerous other studies have already told us: modest increases in truck size and weight limits have a net positive effect on highway safety and maintenance.

Bill Graves
President and CEO,
American Trucking Associations, Arlington, Va.

Mayors Like New Financing Options

The nation’s mayors commend Congress for finally acting, and after more than 1,000 days of operating under short-term extensions, we will end the cycle of uncertainty that has threatened jobs and new investment in our cities and their metro economies. With this cloud lifted, mayors and other local leaders can now use the resources this agreement provides to improve the performance of our transportation systems. Its new financing options will help ensure more jobs are created and our economy grows.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter
President, U.S. Conference
of Mayors

Incentives for State Interlock Laws Went Too Far

The House and Senate should amend the interlock provisions of the highway bill to apply only to the high-blood alcohol concentration [offenders] and repeat drunk drivers who cause the vast majority of alcohol-impaired fatalities. These low-BAC, first-time offender mandates are one-size-fits all penalties that deny judicial discretion and eliminate proportional response. Furthermore, this mandate is completely unenforceable unless the states are willing to spend many millions of dollars on compliance enforcement. Interlocks can be a positive anti-drunk driving tool, but only if utilized correctly.

Sarah Longwell
Managing Director, American Beverage
Institute, Washington, D.C.

A ‘Lifeline’ for Construction Workers

For men and women in the construction industry, who have been battling Depression-era levels of unemployment, passage of this bill will be a lifeline. By ensuring multi-year investment, it will help restore the certainty needed to launch long-term projects. And for the nation, this is a step toward fixing our roads, bridges and transit systems that were once the envy of the world.

This is great progress. It opens the door to the bigger conversation of how our country can face the challenges of investing adequately in critical infrastructure needs for the future.

Terry O’Sullivan
General President, Laborers’ International Union of North America, Washington, D.C.

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