Transportation group supports funding reauthorization proposal

James Corless, the director of Transportation for America, recently released a statement about the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s release of the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act.

The purpose of the act is to reauthorize the federal transportation program. This is one step closer to a long-term bill and solution for funding the infrastructure of the U.S.

“The DRIVE Act takes several important steps to address gaps and build on policies adopted in MAP-21,” Corless said. “For one, it increases the share of funding directly provided to local communities through the Surface Transportation Program and the Transportation Alternatives Program. It takes steps to help communities become more resilient in the face of natural disasters and a changing climate. It opens up low-interest financing to support smart economic development along public transit lines, and lowers the cost thresholds to help local communities qualify for low-cost federal TIFIA loans. And it would ensure all modes of transportation are accounted for in the design of highway projects. 

“While this bill provides a positive starting point, there are other areas where Congress can and should do better,” Corless said. “ The next surface transportation authorization should improve transparency and accountability, and focus on how we pick transportation projects and measure the success of those investments. The new freight program and the major projects competitive grant provision should be broadened to allow multimodal projects to be eligible. And more emphasis must be placed on investments that promote access to jobs and economic opportunity for working Americans, particularly those that are struggling the most to make ends meet.”

Corless said the bill should also do more to provide communities of all sizes with greater access to the resources they need to support economic prosperity and competitiveness.

“The Innovation In Surface Transportation Act, introduced by Sens. (Roger) Wicker (R-MS) and (Cory) Booker (D-NJ) earlier this year, would be a great place to start," he said. "That bill, to be considered as an amendment during committee markup, would create a competitive transportation grant program in each state, allowing communities to compete for a larger share of federal funding on the merits — incentivizing innovation and rewarding smart decision-making and efficiency.”

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