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Some details on Chairman Oberstar’s transportation proposal

18 Jun 2009 | Posted by | 0 Comments | , , ,
Read T4 America’s official statement on the release of the summary outline by Chairman James Oberstar.

We’ll have a number of posts today and tomorrow breaking down some of the notable spending levels and reforms proposed in Chairman Oberstar’s outline of the transportation bill. In the meantime, we thought we’d give you a few details that we’ve looked over while scanning the outline of the bill this morning. Note that today’s 11 a.m. press conference — which will included a longer version of the proposal — has been delayed until 2 p.m. due to “House votes.”

According to Oberstar’s summary, the upcoming bill will restructure and transform federal transportation policy away from multiple “prescriptive programs” into a “performance-based framework” “designed to achieve specific national objectives.”

The outline calls for terminating and consolidating more than 75 of the 108 total programs into a few broad large program areas, but it maintains current funding silos between separate modes. Here’s a quick breakdown. (Remember that these numbers are not final, and could be very different when the bill is released next week.)

  • Highways: $337.4 billion (75%) of $450 billion
  • Transit: $98.8 billion (22.2%) of $450 billion
  • Safety Programs: $12.6 billion (2.8%) of $450 billion

Its important to note that the $98.8 billion in proposed transit funds is not necessarily an accurate reflection of how much money public transportation would receive in total. Oberstar’s outline includes $50 billion for a new “Metropolitan Mobility and Access Program,” which will “provide significant funding to help the largest metropolitan regions address congestion,” and a refocused “Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program” (CMAQ). While money for both of these programs are included in the highway allocation, it would be possible under the proposal to spend these funds on public transportation projects to achieve the stated goals of CMAQ and the Metropolitan Mobility programs.

Chairman Oberstar’s outline also calls for $50 billion to develop high-speed rail — in addition to the money in the stimulus package and yearly appropriations bill for this year — an area of transportation that has never received funding in previous transportation legislation.

Oberstar told Congressional Quarterly this morning that he is still planning on releasing full bill text and marking up the bill in his Highways and Transit Subcommittee next week.

Check back later today for more details and analysis.