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Urgently Needed: A New Highway and Transit Bill

With the current highway and transit funding program set to expire March 31, 2012, transportation advocates are encouraged by renewed interest to address this critical issue.

In May 2011 Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and David Vitter (R-La.) released a joint statement on draft legislation to reauthorize the nation's surface transportation funding programs, entitled Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21).

In July, Senator Boxer and Senator Inhofe released an outline for MAP-21.

On November 9, the Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee unanimously approved MAP - 21, (S 1813) a two year highway and public transit bill that reforms federal transportation programs and maintains funding at current service levels.  In the coming weeks it is expected the Senate Committee on Banking - responsible for transit programs, and the Senate Committee on Commerce - responsible for safety and rail programs, will approve their respective titles so that they may be merged with the EPW package.

In mid-November, Speaker John Boehner outlined legislation linking new domestic energy production with federal infrastructure efforts. The plan would include a five-year authorization of the federal highway and public transportation programs (currently on the eighth short-term extension) funded at roughly $50 billion per year.

The revenue is expected to come from existing resources in the Highway Trust Fund and revenue derived from new domestic energy initiatives including off-shore drilling leases and royalties. While these new revenues may prove insufficient to fully fund a five-year bill, there is support the Speaker's commitment to find the necessary revenues.

House Republicans are expected to release the text of the bill (HR 7), The American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act, in January.

But more is needed. Congress won't act until they hear from their constituents - YOU. Here's a quick guide to help better understand the issue. Contact your members of Congress (both House and Senate) and encourage your friends and colleagues to do the same. Arrange for a group of businesses or neighbors to meet with your representatives to stress the importance of a fully-funded highway and transit bill. Your voice matters.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mike Kane December 20, 2011 at 03:07 AM
Nancy-Jo, The article mentions Highway Trust Fund but even admits there's no money for the full 5 years. how do you suggest we pay for said $50 billion? More taxes (as if the 53% of total income paid in taxes/fees/etc we pay on average isn't enough) Borrow money (as if15 trillion dollars, or $48,454 per citizen, or $134,286 per taxpayer isn't enough) Print money (as if an inflation tax is fair on people who save, and as if real inflation ,not CPI, as that excludes key essentials such as energy prices, isn't already over 10%) So how do you suggest we pay for it? This country is broke

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