Funding reform needed at federal level
Just six days into his new position as head of the Federal Highway Administration, and with the prospects that his tenure will end in January, Tom Madison complimented Idaho officials for their efforts to address the transportation funding challenge.
The cost of congestion, in terms of moving both people and products, costs Americans bout $150 billion a year, Madison said. And the congestion isn’t confined to metropolitan areas – even rural areas are “choked” by congestion, he said.
At a time when the transportation system is in greatest need, it’s come to a crossroad, Madison said. Fundamental reform is greatly needed. He said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters recently introduced an initiative, “Refocus, Reform and Renew -- the National Approach to Highway and Transit Systems in America.” The effort seeks to overhaul the way U.S. transportation decisions and investments are made.
Reform is needed to address exploding highway congestion, rising fuel prices, unsustainable gas taxes and spending decisions based on political influence instead of merit, all of which are eroding confidence in government and threatening mobility, the economy and quality of life in America,” Peters said in introducing the initiative recently.
(See http://www.fightgridlocknow.gov/reform/reformoverview.htm for details of her plan.)
Even the concept of federal reauthorization of transportation funds must be addressed, Madison said.
Before final approval of the current transportation bill, 6,000 amendments were attached, representing about $15 billion in specific projects or “earmarks.” Eliminating those additional projects is an important consideration as Congress begins work on reauthorization in 2010.
“Investments are more critical today than they’ve ever been before,” Madison warned.