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Federal Infrastructure Policy in Flux
The latest edition of Planning magazine from the American Planning Association (APA) has a feature called "Reverse Gears: A New Reality for Public Works?" by John McCarron. He addresses a number of issues raised by the mid-term elections, including how the changes in Washington are likely to influence outcomes at the state, regional, and local levels. Mr. McCarron points out that the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee has in recent years supported alternative modes, including bikeways, light rail, and bus rapid transit. He and other observers question whether the new committee leadership will continue that support, which has included an emphasis on comprehensive regional planning. The article also includes context about previous and current efforts to pass a new federal transportation bill to replace SAFETEA-LU, which expired September 30, 2009. For CMAP's position on that reauthorization effort, see executive director Randy Blankenhorn's testimony to a February 20, 2011, hearing of the T&I Committee.
On March 3, 2011, the U.S. Senate passed HR 662, which the House of Representatives had passed on March 2 as a seventh extension of SAFETEA-LU programs. In effect until the current federal fiscal year ends on September 30, the bill averted a shutdown of Highway Trust Fund programs. This extension allows Congress to avoid having to pass short-term extensions this spring and summer as legislators seek to pass a new surface transportation authorization.
Thanks to John McCarron and the APA for permission to post the article.