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New Jersey Future Joins Coalition To Issue Transportation Reform Report

Road map for transformational change will enhance New Jersey’s economic future

May 11, 2009

Today, as Congress prepares to rewrite the federal transportation law, New Jersey Future joined Transportation for America to release a detailed plan to re-create the nation’s transportation program in order to build a smart, safe and clean transportation system that provides real choices to all Americans. 

Developed in consultation with teams of transportation professionals, public officials and stakeholders from New Jersey and around the country, The Route to Reform outlines a renewed vision for the federal program as well as ways to pay for it, coupled with a restructuring that can produce results. To highlight key features of the proposal, the coalition convened transportation industry experts from across the country for a panel discussion in the House Transportation Committee Room on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Panelists included James Corless, Director, Transportation for America Campaign; Elaine Clegg, Co-Executive Director, Idaho Smart Growth, City Council Member (Boise, ID); Astrid Glynn, former Commissioner, New York State Department of Transportation, Andrew Cotugno, Director of Planning, Metro (Portland, OR); and Ronald Kilcoyne, General Manager/CEO, Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority (CT).

“As the existing program has lost focus and energy, we find ourselves with an aging, yet incomplete transportation system that is not prepared to serve the changing America of the 21st century,” said James Corless, Director of Transportation for America. “Our coalition is prepared to lend considerable support for a much larger investment in transportation, but we believe that only a reinvigorated, redirected federal program will win buy-in from our coalition and American taxpayers in general.”

“New Jersey benefits tremendously from its extensive public transportation system,” said New Jersey Future Managing Director Teri Jover. “The upcoming Transportation Bill must help New Jersey continue to invest in that system and create safe, clean and smart options for residents to get around.”

In the blueprint, Transportation for America recommends Congress include four critical reforms in the upcoming transportation authorization bill:

  1. Articulate a National Vision, Objectives and Performance Targets for the national transportation program and hold state and local transportation agencies accountable for demonstrable progress toward goals including safety, efficiency, environment, health and equity.
  2. Restructure and consolidate federal programs for greater modal integration, with a focus on completing the second half of the national transportation system, providing more transportation options for all Americans and creating seamless transportation systems that meet the unique needs and connect metropolitan regions, small towns and rural areas.
  3. Empower states, regions and cities with direct transportation funding and greater flexibility to select projects, using carrots and sticks to incentivize wise transportation investments and in return require demonstrated performance on meeting national objectives.
  4. Reform how we pay for the transportation system and create a Unified Transportation Trust Fund that would achieve balanced allocations of federal funds in a portfolio of rail, freight, highway, public transportation and non-motorized transportation investments

The Route to Reform breaks with convention by calling on Congress not to increase taxes to provide additional funding to the federal transportation program unless it also institutes critical reforms. In the summer of 2008, Congress had to patch the highway trust fund with an $8 billion infusion from the general fund. A similar fix may be needed again this summer and long-term projections show that the current funding mechanisms will not meet future needs.

“Our nation’s transportation program has not been significantly upgraded since the 1950s, when President Eisenhower created our federal highway system,” concluded Corless. “Economic competitiveness in the 21st Century relies upon innovative solutions that give Americans options and connect our cities, regions and rural areas. The upcoming rewrite of our federal transportation law represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop a new national transportation vision and leave behind a new legacy for our children and grandchildren. The Route to Reform will help policy makers ensure that legacy is one they can be proud of.”

Download the full report: The Route To Reform.


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