A Better Transportation Bill
March 22nd, 2012 by New Jersey Future staff
As we wrote in February, the federal transportation bill proposed in the House of Representatives is terrible; the bill would undermine economic growth and clean air by placing transit funds at risk, among other issues. Imagine the impact on New Jersey with 11% of our population commuting to work by train, and our strongest real estate markets located around transit hubs. Our partners at T4America have a top 10 list explaining the growing opposition to that bill.
The good news is that the Senate recently passed its transportation bill, MAP-21, by a strong bipartisan vote of 74-22. With the March 31 expiration of the latest stop-gap extension rapidly approaching, Sens. Lautenberg and Menendez, Rep. Sires, and USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood held a press conference in Hoboken calling on the House to pass the Senate’s bill.
In case you haven’t been following these bills as closely as we have, here is the skinny on the bipartisan Senate version:
- Maintains current levels of road, transit, and Amtrak funding.
- Restores the transit commuter tax benefit at $230/month.
- Reforms the New Starts program to get transit projects started more quickly.
- Allows transit agencies to use a small portion of federal funds for emergency operations.
- Creates a transit-oriented development planning grant program for municipalities.
- Focuses highway and bridge spending on repair and maintenance, with real accountability measures to ensure states deal with existing infrastructure.
- Includes a complete streets provision and maintains local municipalities’ access to pedestrian and bicycle safety funds.
The overwhelming support in the Senate clearly shows the way toward a bipartisan bill that can pass, and thereby end the uncertainty around the potential shutdown of another key function of government. New Jersey Future thanks our Senators for their leadership and implores our state delegation to prevail upon House leadership to adopt the Senate bill, before the clock runs out on the current extension at the end of next week. Thousands of jobs and the safety of our bridges, roads and transit systems are riding on it.
To urge your representatives to act, please visit the action alert page on T4America’s website.