Community Outcomes in Transportation Policy

National transportation has received significant media coverage over the last month, primarily because of the debate over the authorization of a new surface transportation bill. Unfortunately, given the hot topic of the national health care legislation, the transportation bill did not come up for vote. In order to ensure that federal transportation funding would not run out in September, both the House and the Senate passed a $7 billion patch yesterday. Now, the federal transportation conversation will have to be put on hold for a month, while Congressional leaders are back in their respective districts in August.

While the debate over the federal transportation bill has been fraught with tension between the White House administration and Representative Jim Oberstar, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, it now seems that there is some agreement from both sides about the vision for the future of national transportation. Rep. Oberstar has expressed his hope for a completely restructured policy that favors transit choices and reduces dependence on cars, and, at a recent conference of the National Association of Counties, US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood echoed a similar point, stating “for too long, federal policy has encouraged sprawl and congestion and pollution, rather than quality public transportation and smart, sustainable development.” Furthermore, in his remarks, Secretary LaHood astutely pointed out that decisions made at the county level have a direct effect on achieving livable communities and neighborhoods that are appealing to businesses and new residents. The recognition of this very important role of county government was the impetus for the creation of the TIGER grant program within the stimulus package. The program encourages local county governments to submit transportation outcomes and goals, which will then be matched with an appropriate infrastructure proposal. The result: direct relations between the department of transportation and local governments, with the hope of effectively meeting the transportation needs of each community.  Here’s to better planning initiatives.

Check out Secretary LaHood’s complete report from the National Association of Counties conference, and keep checking this blog for more news about sustainable development and smart growth.

About Beata Bujalska

Beata Bujalska is the former Campaign Coordinator for Renew Lehigh Valley. She currently lives in Panama, a place that fascinates her due to (among other reasons) its recent development boom.

Posted on July 31, 2009, in Municipal Government, Neighborhoods, Public Infrastructure, Transportation and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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