With economy and transportation infrastructure deteriorating, how will Congress shape the T-bill?

From Andrea Kiepe, Transportation for America, Minnesota Field Organizer

With SAFTEA-LU originally expiring in 2009, the national transportation bill (also referred to as the re-authorization or the T-bill) is now overdue by two years. Without a forward-looking T-bill, the nation’s crumbing roads and bridges continue to languish while transit systems are stretched to capacity. At a time when top economists, hundreds of mayors, and crowds of taxpayers agree we must stimulate the economy and create jobs, many are wondering if Congress can overcome partisan gridlock to pass a strong and reformed transportation bill; and if so, when?

The most recent positive sign: US House Republican leaders, in consultation with Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica, are actively seeking $100 billion in new revenue to fund the transportation bill. This pulls them back from their previous proposal that deeply cut funding to meet targets in the Ryan budget. With many local and state governments in fiscal distress, the federal portion of funding becomes even more important.Even in times of relative economic well-being, the federal contribution will frequently make or break a local transportation project.

Here in Minnesota, federal funding was a critical component of the Hiawatha and Central Corridor light rail projects as well as the many improvements constructed by Bike Walk Twin Cities through the non-motorized transportation pilot program.

“Now, with a commitment to sufficient funding levels, we look forward to working with Chairman Mica on a new bill that puts Americans to work fixing our nation’s roads and bridges, while improving access to safe and reliable travel options and holding states accountable for every taxpayer dollar," said James Corless, director of Transportation for America

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