Congressman Jim Matheson (D) – Transportation Authorization Bill
In late June both the House and Senate approved a two-year transportation authorization bill (HR 4348), which will fund federal surface transportation programs at current levels through September 2014. Please provide a brief analysis of how the transportation authorization bill will impact local governments.
The recently passed transportation bill, which I support, does the following:
- Makes changes to the structure and purpose of a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)
- Restructures the current Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to Schools, and Recreational Trails programs by combining eligibility for funding for all three programs into the new “Transportation Alternatives” program at reduced levels.
- Among other changes, states can now transfer up to 50 percent of “transportation alternatives” funding to other state programs if they choose.
- Expands TIFIA available financing for transportation projects
- Reforms and streamlines the environmental review process for transportation projects, including allowing MPO’s and states to have a say in programmatic mitigation plans.
- Funding for transit programs increases under the law
- Transit systems (meeting certain population and bus number requirements) can flex their capital funding for operating costs
- Transit grants to rural areas will increase, as well eligibility requirements
- Restructures the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program
- Allows states to transfer up to 50 percent of CMAQ funds to other programs, an increase from the 21 percent transfer allowed under previous law
- Requires regions with populations over 1 million to develop a performance plan outlining baseline conditions, targets for performance measures and a description of how funded projects will help meet air quality targets
- Removes provisions that reduced highway formula funds for states that sell or lease toll facilities to private companies
- Encourages states to develop freight plans and freight advisory committees