T4America Blog

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Second proposed performance measure from USDOT makes some important improvements

You may have missed it amidst the flurry of holidays and the beginning of a new year, but after a long wait, the U.S. Department of Transportation finally released the second of three proposed rules to measure the performance of our nation’s transportation investments. Unlike the first proposed rule for safety, the news is much better this time around.

USDOT listened to the feedback offered by the public during the comment period following the first proposed rule — including more than 1,500 T4America and Complete Streets Coalition supporters — and made some important changes to this second proposed rule for measuring road and bridge conditions to increase accountability and transparency of our limited transportation dollars. (This follows on the heels of the small but incredibly meaningful change for non-motorized transportation users included in the omnibus budget passed just a few weeks ago.)

The first proposed performance measure for safety was “too weak to be effective,” allowing states to avoid taking any action to improve safety by giving them a passing grade even when they failed to meet half of the targets required in law — contrary to congressional intent in MAP-21. The American taxpayer wouldn’t accept failing grades for our schools, nor should they accept them for our transportation system.

At that point Transportation for America was worried that one of the few key reforms made by MAP-21 – performance measures and national goals – was going to become another paper-stapling exercise that would do little to actually improve how our dollars get spent.

But USDOT took the public’s advice and agreed that state DOTs and MPOs should be held accountable for meeting performance targets. Even better, USDOT makes it clear in the rule that they intend to share all performance reports submitted by state DOTs with the public — an important step toward improving the public’s trust and accountability in the nation’s transportation system.

We thank USDOT for their inclusiveness and willingness to engage the public. Along with our partners across the country, we want to build on this and ensure the public’s trust and accountability is guaranteed with the final rule.

We’ll have more details on this proposed rule and a full summary in the next few days.