The White House announced last week that President Barack Obama would propose a $302 billion, four-year transportation reauthorization bill this week during his visit to the Union Depot train station in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The President’s proposed bill aims to avoid insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), which is expected to run out of funds as early as August if Congress fails to implement a solution. The bill would reauthorize the current transportation-funding bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), which will expire in September. Obama will also announce the availability of $600 million in 2014 TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) competitive grants to fund transportation projects. He will outline his plan for these grants in an announcement separate from his reauthorization bill proposal during his visit. The bill would provide funding to states and local governments for transportation projects undefined two levels that need more support than MAP-21 has provided. It will also provide $63 billion to the Highway Trust Fund to help fill the funding gap and will include policies and reforms to prioritize “Fix-it-First” investments.
Other investments included in the proposal are:
$206 billion for highway funding and road safety, which is comprised of about $199 billion for highways over four years (a 22-percent annual increase) and more than $7 billion for highway safety
$72 billion for transit and expansion projects over four years undefined a nearly 70-percent increase annually undefined that allows for expansion and maintenance projects in transit
$19 billion in rail funding, which includes nearly $5 billion annually for high performance and passenger rail programs
$9 billion in TIGER grants and competitive funding, which would provide $5 billion over four years undefined a more than 100-percent increase undefined for the TIGER program and propose $4 billion in other competitive funding to encourage innovative thinking
The bill also includes policy reforms that would offer federal funding for local projects. In addition to funding for transportation projects, the proposed bill would include funds dedicated to job and economic growth as well as plans to ensure funds outlined in the bill are used efficiently. The bill would allocate more than $2.6 billion and provide policy reforms for “the creation of ladders of opportunity.” Those funds include $2.2 billion for a new bus rapid transit program and $400 million for the construction workforce. An additional $10 billion would go toward a new multimodal freight program.
Supervisor Ally Miller sits down with TUCA Members
Supervisor Ally Miller joined some TUCA members last Friday at the TUCA office. She shared her perspective of numerous data regarding gas tax and highway user revenue funds. She is correlating that higher gas taxes do not necessarily mean better roads, in fact the opposite. The Supervisor also illustrated that the County is “mismanaging” transportation dollars and that more money could be spent on roads today. Her staff is still trying to find more areas of the budget that she feels are not a high priority for the County and recommend dollars be spent on roads. Supervisor Miller is looking at other ways to make changes by looking at the State Legislature for help, although she specified that she does not like to see more regulation, but regulation she feels would be important for paying for repairs of streets. TUCA thanks everyone who participated and we are glad to announce the next “community conversation” event on March 21 with State Senator Steve Farley. See below for details, all RSVP’s must be in by March 19 at 5 PM. The room will hold only 25 people.