In a huge victory for citizens and the local business community, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) Wednesday signed a long-sought bill giving metro Indianapolis counties the right to vote on funding a much-expanded public transportation network, including bus rapid transit.
Several places have been in the news lately as they find their ambitious efforts to solve transportation challenges hinging on legislative action this lawmaking season. In some, state legislators are helping out with enabling legislation, but in others they are challenging the concept of local control and threatening needed investment.
Opponents in the Tennessee legislature have put forward an amendment designed to stop Nashville’s bus rapid transit line, eliciting howls of protest over legislative intervention in a local project previously approved by the state DOT.
This week President Obama released his proposal for next fiscal year’s budget (FY15), outlining his vision and priorities for the coming fiscal year starting this October. The President’s budget for transportation, which aligns with many things that Transportation for America and our alliance of local leaders across the country have been proposing — from the need to shore up the trust fund to the urgent economic imperative to make new investments in transportation at all levels.
Before a packed room on Capitol Hill, local leaders from three very different communities shared one very specific message with a handful of Congressmen and at least four dozen staffers: If Congress doesn’t act to shore up the nation’s transportation fund before it goes insolvent later this year, their cities and communities would bear the brunt of the pain.
This inspiring story from Normal, Illinois is one that we’ve been following here for quite some time. Normal’s story is the third in our series of these stories that illustrate how local communities across the country are casting a vision for transportation investments and often putting their own skin in the game first with local funding while hoping for a strong federal partner to make those plans a reality. And that’s just what Normal found through the federal TIGER program.
It’s not a new story by now: states and local governments stand to lose nearly all access to federal transportation support next year if Congress doesn’t act to shore up the nation’s transportation fund sometime before the end of the summer. So far, we’ve mostly talked about this as a national story, but make no mistake: insolvency would have huge impacts on local communities. To explore the issue in that light, we’re supporting a bipartisan briefing pulled together by two key House members
Almost 1,000 people heading to Denver, Colorado this week for the annual New Partners for Smart Growth conference will get to see up close what we recently called “a bold bet on an ambitious and comprehensive plan to expand their transportation network a decade ago” in our profile of Denver’s transportation success.
New revenue projections for the Highway Trust Fund released this week from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) show that, not only is the nation’s transportation fund going in the red sooner than expected, but the gap to maintain promised funding levels has increased by about $5 billion.
That was the implied assertion made by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed in a widely-circulated op-ed last week on Huffington Post. But is it accurate to paint today’s debate over this point as a black-and-white “age-old tug of war between state transportation officials and their city-level counterparts” about doling out money, as National Journal did in a question to their panel of transportation experts? Or is the problem more that we’re entering a new age of transportation needs armed with the last era’s transportation policies?