Adam Snider noted in his recent article in Politico, that the federal highway and transit program is in dire need of systematic and funding reform. He suggests that a significant increase in funding is required in order to overhaul the current program. The Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Transportation Policy Project recognizes that there are great needs and that it is essential to increase investment in our nation’s transportation and infrastructure networks. While current budget realities prevent us from doing all that we would want, the need for economic recovery and renewal require that we do all that we can. With limited resources available, the urgency for policy makers to make fundamental reforms in surface transportation programs becomes even greater.The core of these reforms should be a more outcome-based and accountable federal program, and its elements should include consolidating and simplifying federal programs; an emphasis on the restoration of existing transportation networks and facilities, in order to improve their efficiency and productivity; and an effective transportation planning and programming process, under which states, metropolitan regions and localities make better and more informed decisions about the investment of federal transportation funds. These funds – likely to be constrained for the foreseeable future – should be invested in those programs and projects that promise to bring the greatest benefits and returns, in terms of national purposes. Congress should take the essential and necessary first step in that direction, by clearly articulating those goals in the next surface transportation legislation.
By making these reforms, Congress can establish the basis which is needed to restore the trust of the American people that resources will be used wisely to advance national goals and purposes. Only once this level of trust has been restored will there be an appetite to support the necessary increase in funding.
This summer, NTPP recently released a blueprint detailing how available funds can be used with greater focus, accountability, and results to advance critical national needs and priorities for our surface transportation programs. NTPP’s plan, Performance Driven: Achieving Wiser Investment in Transportation, recommended reforms to consolidate federal programs, so as to target scarce federal resources around a set of specific national goals. Those goals include advancing economic growth, improving national connectivity, promoting metropolitan accessibility, improving energy security and environmental sustainability, and fostering safety. To read the full report, please click here.
- Fate of Transportation Funding Tied to Super Committee?, October 25, 2011