The U.S. House of Representatives' $230-billion surface transportation program would cut federal funding for highways, transit, and safety by 30%. Part of the savings would come from streamlining separate programs to cut red tape. Funding would come from current gasoline, diesel, and other taxes.
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee member Richard Hanna (R-New York) says the six-year bill would "provide states and transit agencies with an established stream of federal funding that will allow them to take on major construction projects."
In response, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) says the proposal would eliminate 500,000 jobs. The Senate's plan, expected to be released in mid-July, raises federal funding. The two-year, $109-billion package would require $12 billion annually over existing funding levels.
For its part, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) just wants "timely action."
According to Executive Director John Horsley, the House proposal features many reforms that states support: strategies to deliver projects more quickly, financing tools that generate more value from infrastructure investment, and formulas that distribute funding more equitably.
"We continue to have concerns about proposed funding levels, but this is the start of a process that will include not only the House, but also the Senate and the Administration," he says. He urges Congress to move quickly "to pass a new long-term surface transportation bill that's desperately needed to maintain our national transportation system."
As lawmakers continue to debate scope and spending levels, their deadline approaches: The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) expires Oct. 1.