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Budget compromise keeps highways and transit steady, cuts TIGER

10 Dec 2014 | Posted by | 3 Comments | , , ,

The $1.01 trillion spending agreement reached by House and Senate negotiators on Tuesday night freezes highway spending at $40 billion while avoiding the big cuts to transit projects in the House proposal.

Here’s a closer look at some other key provisions:

TIGER. Funding for TIGER will drop from $600 million in fiscal 2014 to $500 million – disappointing, but $400 million better than the original House version. More importantly, the compromise also drops a House requirement to limit TIGER grants to highway, bridge and port projects. That means TIGER can continue to support innovative projects that take a multimodal approach and address needs as local communities define them, rather than Congress.

TIGER Planning grants. While the Senate bill would have allocated $35 million for planning grants, the final measure will eliminate them for fiscal 2015. This is surely a case of being penny wise and pound foolish, because good planning can avoid costly errors while making the most of limited transportation dollars. (For evidence, see our Innovative MPO guide, released today.)

Transit. As with highways, formula dollars for transit are frozen at current levels, about $9 billion. Capital investment grants come in at $2.1 billion, the same as the Senate level, and about $456 million higher than the House bill. It supplies $172 million for “small starts”, such as streetcar and bus rapid transit projects.

Safety for people on foot or bicycle. FHWA is directed to establish separate, non-motorized safety performance measures for the highway safety improvement program, define performance measures for fatalities and serious injuries from pedestrian and bicycle crashes, and publish its final rule on safety performance measures no later than September 30, 2015. Transportation for America advocated for the inclusion of a non-motorized safety performance measure and will continue to lead the effort to ensure our transportation investments provide the largest return on taxpayer investment (More here).

Omnibus Appropriations
House FY15 THUD ProposalSenate FY15 THUD ProposalFY14 THUD Enacted AppropriatesDifference between FY15 THUD Omnibus and FY14 THUD
Federal-Aid Highways$40.26B$40.26B$40.26B$40.26B--
Transit Formula Grants$8.6B$8.6B$8.6B$8.6B--
Transit 'New Starts' & 'Small Starts'$2.147B$1.691B$2.163B$1.943B+$204M in Omnibus
TIGER$500M$100M$550M$600M-$100M in Omnibus
Amtrak Operating$250M$340M$350M$340M-$90M in Omnibus
Amtrak Capital$1.14B$850M$841B$1.05B+$90M in Omnibus
High Speed Rail$0$0$0$0--