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DOT poised to move on a long-term transportation bill in 2011?

When President Obama made his announcement on Labor Day about investing in infrastructure, most media outlets focused in directly on the $50 billion amount that would be spent up front to jumpstart infrastructure investment — something we already noted last week. But he also talked about the need for a reformed long-term transportation reauthorization, the full six-year bill that would provide certainty for job creation and the economy.

Here’s a quote from the release that accompanied the President’s speech:

The President proposes to pair this with a long-term framework to reform and expand our nation’s investment in transportation infrastructure. Since the end of last year, when the last long-term surface transportation legislation expired, these investments have been continued on a temporary basis, even as the trust fund to finance them has fallen into insolvency. If we are to enjoy the benefits that come from a world-class transportation system, Congress must enact a long-term reauthorization that expands and reforms our infrastructure investments and returns the transportation trust fund to solvency.

So the million dollar question has been, when will we see this bill? With Congress unlikely to pass anything of substance between now and the election and an already full docket for the likely lame duck session to follow, what is the administration or USDOT saying about moving a bill forward?

As much progress as has been made by the House transportation committee thus far, introducing a full bill proposal all the way back in July of 2009, both chambers have been waiting for the White House to declare the transportation bill a priority and to put their significant weight behind it. Now it sounds like that day could be just a few months away.

In a meeting with advocates this week, Secretary LaHood said that they have the go-ahead from the White House to move a six year bill in 2011, with a full proposal accompanying the President’s budget request for FY12 in February, according to USDOT sources.

The question remains as to whether or not that will be a full bill, or merely the administration’s principles for a bill, but in either case, this is at least a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel for our long wait for a transformational transportation bill. Which, we remind you, expired one year ago in just a few days. (See the clock above on our web site.)

No Comments

  1. Ken Orski

    7 years ago

    Whether the DOT officials come up with just a set of principles or whether they come up with a full draft bill is almost immaterial. The next transportation authorization bill will be written in Congress not in the U.S. DOT. Or more specifically, the bill will be written by John Mica and his Republican colleagues in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. However, it will be interesting to see how much of the Administration’s proposal will survive Mr. Mica’s scrutiny

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  3. Joel

    7 years ago

    I think U.S. DOT and President Obama should craft the bill that they want. Then the President should tell Congress to enact his law. This will establish his position as well as the starting point for negotiations.

    I disliked Bush, but this is how he did things, and it was extremely effective. A “statement of principles” was not very effective in the health care fight. It basically was just a punt to his own party in Congress to force them to do all the sausage-making.

  4. tim

    7 years ago

    We need serious change not incremental change as we face the prospect of Peak Oil and disastrous climate change from our auto-addicted policies. Transportation accounts for 70% of US oil usage and 38% of greenhouse emissions more than 80% of that for cars and trucks which in turn accounts for 40% of our balance of payments deficit for imported oil.
    Trains and public transit are 5x more efficient than cars, many trains are ALREADY electric powered, and they can take at least 10x more people in the same land usage as cars.
    It costs $30 Million to build every mile of highway and $500,000 to maintain it.
    Yet Federal and State policies continue to subsidize cars and trucks by charging gas taxes
    which are only a pittance of roads, cars and trucks true costs – which should be at LEAST $1
    more per gallon, and many estimates $3 or more per gallon.
    Yet Obama is afraid to increase the gas tax.
    Other measures are still outlandishly lopsided-
    Take Obama’s recent “Infrastructure Stimulus” which
    funds 150,000 miles of roads vs 4,000 miles of rail!
    This is ludicrous when the US has 233,000 miles of rail mostly lying unused or underutilized
    as well as 140,000 miles of actively used freight rail!
    Take a walk from your house in almost any direction and within 5 miles or less you will almost
    certainly come across railroad tracks.
    They are already there from what was once the greatest Rail and Trolley system in the whole world!

    The quickest way to save oil and greenhouse emissions and land and the 40,000 auto deaths
    is to run the trains on the trainlines we already have, offer shuttle service and parking garages,
    then reclaim the rails doing nothing all over this country for light rail, commuter rail, regional rail
    and long distance rail.

    The longer we wait the more expensive it will be as all the heavy oil-using equipment required
    gets more and more expensive to run as oil becomes more and more scarce.

    We do NOT need a 30 year plan from Amtrak for high-speed rail in the Northeast – we need
    something like the 4 year plans China has…
    In 30 years it will already be too late…

    Lets get moving!

  5. BRENDA A STUBBS

    7 years ago

    I WILL KEEP ON WORKING ON THE TRANSPORTATION BILL FOR ALL AMERICAN,BRENDA

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