Transportation activists meeting with lawmakers have learned that no policy changes are planned in the economic stimulus bill. According to Damien Newton of LA Streetsblog, we can expect the stimulus funding by transportation mode to be similar to what it was in the last Federal transportation funding authorization. This is evident in President-elect Barack Obama’s latest video, in which he emphasizes expanding the highway system.
The current federal transportation funding bill — Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) — expires in September of this year. Congressional sources say they plan to follow the spending priorities established when President Bush signed SAFETEA-LU into law in 2005, in spite of collapsing demand for distant, suburban housing and growing demand from the public for alternate modes of transportation.
While we can expect some changes in the next transportation funding — the next version of TEA is being drafted by the offices of Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Jim Oberstar — the United States cannot wait until September to replace a failing transportation policy. Please contact your elected official and let them know your views on transportation policy and the stimulus bill. For “shovel ready” projects that need funding, mention everything from transit systems that are in dire need of upgrades to bike facilities (including bike storage and parking) and even something as mundane as sidewalks.