Why bother with a transportation bill?

The National Journal asks their panel of transportation policy experts: Why bother with the transportation bill?

The last U.S. Federal transportation funding act, the “Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users” (SAFETEA-LU) expired in 2009. Funding, programs and taxes have limped along through a series of continuing resolutions. The current continuing resolution expires this weekend, June 30.

This is an election year, so there’s a little more grandstanding than usual. The Senate passed the bipartisan MAP-21 bill last March, but the House refuses to pass this as each party proposes their own transportation plans. House and Senate leaders have been negotiating in conference for weeks and have compromised on issues such as transportation enhancements, but they’re still at loggerheads on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project. The Obama administration rejected TransCanada’s application for the “Phase 4″ Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport Alberta crude through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska to the U.S. oil trading nexus in Cushing, Oklahoma.

The National Journal asks if a two year bill is even worth the effort, or if our legislators should just authorize another six month continuation just to get past the election.

This is an awful lot of hoopla for a milk-toast two-year highway bill as the best possible outcome. Is it worth it? What’s the difference between six months and 15 months? Won’t state transportation departments be reeling under the severe pressures of budget uncertainty no matter what happens? Why should the transportation community kill themselves to lobby for a bill that will be obsolete almost as soon as the ink is dry?

Read more and watch for the experts’ responses at Transportation Experts Blog.

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