Changes to Federal Transportation Funding Formula
Earlier today, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a change in federal transportation funding that will promote “livability” and the environment. The previous funding formula, under the Bush administration, focused primarily on commute times and costs, tying the DOT’s hands when it came to public transit funding.
Former President George W. Bush, who believed transit systems should rely less on federal funds, restricted federal grants to transit projects that could be shown to reduce traffic congestion and commute times. (source)
Announcing the new approach to transportation funding, Secretary LaHood said,
“We want to base our decisions on how much transit helps the environment, how much it improves development opportunities and how it makes our communities better places to live,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in announcing the change on Wednesday. (source)
LaHood also commented on the change resulting in a stronger relationship between HUD, DOT, and the EPA. In June of 2009, these three agencies formed the Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities, envisioning a collaborative approach to dealing with issues of housing accessibility, transportation costs/options, and environmental concerns.
This is a great step towards establishing public transit development as fundamental to livability and sustainable development. This change may have a substantial effect on Recovery Act fund allocation for selected transportation projects.
The new policy comes about a month ahead of when the Transportation Department is expected to announce the recipients of $1.5 billion in grants for innovative transportation projects. (source)
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