Federal transportation policy overhaul proposed

Posted on June 9, 2009

The Bipartisan Policy Center's National Transportation Policy Project (NTPP) released its plan for transforming federal surface transportation policy, on Tuesday, which proposes restructuring federal programs, updating the criteria for formulas, and creating a performance-based system that directly ties transportation spending to broader national goals, including economic growth, connectivity, accessibility, safety, energy security and environmental protection.

Under the leadership of former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, former Congressman Sherwood Boehlert, former Senator Slade Gorton, and former Congressman Martin Sabo, the NTPP - a bipartisan group of 26 diverse members -  produced its plan, "Performance Driven: A New Vision for U.S. Transportation Policy," as a blueprint for a new national transportation system that is efficient, effective and accountable for performance.

"One of the principal current problems is trying to coordinate over 100 different transportation programs that Congress has authorized over the course of half a century, while dealing with an aging and a declining infrastructure," said NTPP co-chair and former Senator Slade Gorton.

The NTPP proposes narrowing these 100-plus programs to a more manageable six core funding programs. The six programs would be competitive and performance-based. NTPP recommends "mode neutral" formula programs that award federal transportation dollars based on system condition and performance and focus on preserving the overall system including a connectivity program that would improve the condition and performance of existing transportation systems that connect the nation and a program aimed at preserving and enhancing the performance of core assets, such as highways, bridges, tunnels, and bus and rail transits in major metropolitan areas.

The group also proposed holding all funding recipients accountable for their contributions to national goals. A new system of metrics would measure project performance in several areas: improved access, a more efficient national network, reduced corridor congestion and petroleum consumption, reduced CO2 emissions, and reduced fatalities and injuries. States and regions whose investments performed well against those goals would be entitled to bonus funding; areas that did not would be subject to greater federal scrutiny in receiving transportation funding.

"If we as a nation are going to invest in transportation, we ought to be able to see results. When you get a report back on what was accomplished, everybody wins," said NTPP co-chair and former mayor of Detroit Dennis Archer.

Performance Driven: A New Vision for U.S. Transportation Policy is rooted in the work done by members of the NTPP since it was established by the Bipartisan Policy Center in February 2008. Its charge was to create a new vision of U.S. surface transportation policy that would be adopted by the administration and Congress and ultimately impact the authorization of the federal surface transportation bill of 2009.  To download a copy of the report, go to www.bpcntpp.org.


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