Local control looms large in transportation-funding legislation saga

The U.S. House has scheduled debate on a multi-year transportation bill, which could improve how local communities receive funding for their transportation projects, for the end of September.

The Senate recently passed a multi-year transportation bill known as the DRIVE Act, which authorizes finances for transportation projects for the next six years. Unfortunately, there is only funding to last for the first three years.

Because the House adjourned for its August recess before taking up the Senate’s long-term bill, Congress decided to pass a three-month extension of transportation funding through late October.

Unfortunately for local communities, an amendment introduced in March, the Innovation in Surface Transportation Act of 2015, was not included in the DRIVE Act (ISTA). The measure would grant more control of transportation funding to local communities, allowing them to monitor their own transportation funding. This likely would help ensure that only the best projects would receive needed financing. ISTA would give local communities a greater portion of federal transportation funding by allocating statewide transportation money to a specific fund, out of which local communities can then compete for financing.

A similar amendment might resurface when reauthorization re-emerges for renewal this fall.

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