Congress and the next Administration are facing the expiration of the current $286 billion national transportation program. The choice is clear: Move our nation in a bold new direction, or continue on the current path of spending billions of taxpayer dollars with little accountability on a system that is both broke and broken.
As Congress develops the next transportation bill, these six priorities should guide them.
1. Establish Accountability for Responsible Investment
The national transportation program should be invested in programs and projects that address pressing national priorities and agencies receiving funds should be accountable for how those funds are spent.
2. Invest to Compete in the 21st Century
The national transportation program should improve and protect U.S. competitiveness in the global economy. Ensure all Americans have the mobility and access needed to participate fully in a robust economy. Begin addressing our transportation infrastructure crisis by taking better care of what we have already built, bringing our transportation assets into a condition of good repair.
3. Invest for Multiple Payoffs in Solving Our Energy, Air Quality, and Climate Challenges
A core mission of the national transportation program should be to reduce the amount households and businesses spend on transportation, reduce the nation’s dependence on oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
4. Reward and Support Smart Local Land Use Planning
The national transportation program should support land use patterns that create vibrant places with transportation opportunities for all Americans. Our nation can no longer afford to sink money into highway lanes or transit that become overwhelmed or undermined by poorly planned development. We need a more efficient system that rewards communities for developing in smarter, more sustainable ways, reducing energy use and carbon emissions while ensuring the availability of housing affordable to families of all incomes, near job centers and public transit.
5. Invest for Public Health and Safety
The national program should improve public health and safety. Support safe walking and biking, reduced exposure to vehicle injuries and dirty air. Provide federal funding and direction so that communities may retrofit unsafe urban roads; create complete streets safe for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists; and encourage active living in communities free of harmful levels of vehicle emissions.
6. Find New Ways to Pay for What We Need
New or increased revenue sources for the federal national transportation program should be equitable, consistent with national goals, and sustainable over the long term.
So how do we make all of these broad overarching goals a reality? If you are interested in the details, download and read our full Blueprint, entitled The Route to Reform, which explains the specific policies and recommendations we’ll need to enact to make these 6 broad goals a reality.