Highway funding back on the map in Senate committee

| 9/4/2008

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-CA, announced this week that she wants to call the next transportation funding reauthorization bill “MAP 21.”

The working title stands for Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, Boxer stated in her opening remarks at the first of two field hearings of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

The committee met Wednesday, Sept. 3, in Sacramento and Thursday, Sept. 4, in Los Angeles to discuss the bill, which will eventually replace the current law known as SAFETEA-LU or the Safe, Accountable, Fair and Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users.

SAFETEA-LU, which was signed into law by President Bush in August 2005, is scheduled to expire in September 2009.

Boxer stated that her top priorities for the next reauthorization bill are:

  • Maintaining the national character of the interstate and federal highway system;
  • Efficient movement of people and goods, including intermodal;
  • Safety, including condition and design of infrastructure;
  • Reducing congestion and its impacts;
  • Sustainable funding for the Highway Trust Fund including alternatives;
  • Consolidating programs substantially to refocus the program; and
  • Establishing funding and performance criteria

“At the end of the day, it’s a matter of setting the right priorities and crafting innovative and effective means to address them,” Boxer stated.

“The next transportation bill provides an opportunity to take a fresh look at these programs and make the changes necessary to ensure our transportation system will meet the Nation’s needs in the coming years.”

Approximately 20 stakeholders in the transportation industry spoke to the committee over the two days, all or most of them from California.

Senate Environment and Public Works is one of a number of Senate and House committees addressing transportation as part of the 2009 reauthorization process.

– By David Tanner, staff writer