Article originally published on the Michigan Land Use Institute's (MLUI) website.
Feds Looking at New Transportation Bill
January 20, 2012 by James Bruckbauer ·
The wait will soon be over. In the next month or two, Congress is expected to pass a $112 billion federal highway bill, putting an end to a long delay in setting a six-year transportation strategy for the country. The last transportation bill, titled SAFETEA-LU, expired on September 30, 2009.
Over the past two years, Congress extended SAFETEA-LU through a series of resolutions. For far too long, legislators put off the decision to create a new long-term nation-wide transportation policy, leaving Michigan and its towns, both large and small, wondering what to expect year to year.
With a five-year strategy in place, Michigan can better plan its transportation projects and shape its communities accordingly.
Even though details of the bill have not been released, for transportation advocates like me, striking a deal on a new strategy is big news.
A strong bill would be one that spends our tax dollars wisely by fixing our existing road network, providing more choices like rail and bus transit for folks to get around, and makes investments in bicycle and pedestrian safety. It would also set policies that make Americans less dependent on cars and oil (whether foreign or our own). A bill that fails to provide these elements is shortsighted.
If the bill directs revenue in much of the same outdated, highway-building policies, we’ll be back to where we are today – crumbling roads, a third-world passenger rail system, and nationwide car dependency.