Reform of U.S. Transportation Programs Delayed


(Date: 22 December 2009)

The legislation providing funding for the surface transportation program in the United States, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users(SAFETEA-LU), expired on September 30, 2009.To continue funding for the nation’s highway and transit programs, the United States Congress has passed a series short term extensions, the most recent, a two month extension that will extend the program through the end of February, 2010.

It is looking increasingly unlikely that the United States Congress will pass a long term surface transportation authorization bill in 2010.Legislation addressing health care, climate change, job stimulus, and financial reform are all likely to take precedence.Additionally, most observers agree that the surface transportation program needs significant additional investment.With a mid-term election in November, 2010 (all U.S. Congressman and at least 36/100 Senators must stand for re-election), it is highly unlikely that the United States Congress will vote for legislation requiring new taxes.

Consequently, Congress is likely to continue to pass short term extensions of SAFTEA-LU.This is bad news for the surface transportation program in the United States.It means that we will continue to under-invest in our infrastructure and that most of the available funds will be spent on maintenance and not on innovative new programs or technology.Recognizing this problem, ITS America is working with other transportation groups in the United States to push for transformative legislation as soon as possible.