Tell Senate to pass clean extension to surface transportation bill

Updated September 16, 2011: Senate passes the bill. Now waiting for President Obama’s signature. Via Transportation 4 America

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Photo of two Metra trains at Clinton Street by Eric Pancer. 

The House has passed a “clean extension” (the eighth one) of SAFETEA-LU on Tuesday, September 13, 2011. That’s the legislation that collects the 18.5 cents per gallon federal gas tax and distributes it to road, transit, pedestrian, and bicycle projects around the country. It’s already passed the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, but not yet the full Senate.

A “clean extension” means extending the existing legislation without amendments. Now’s not the time to debate amendments. Congress has had over two years to do that. They need to extend the legislation and then work faster on creating a replacement bill for surface transportation that reflects our nation’s current priorities, as the extension would only last until March 2012.

Additionally, some Congresspersons desire to remove a piece of the surface transportation legislation called Transportation Enhancements. This is a subsidiary funding mechanism that is often used to build bicycling trails, sidewalks, crosswalks, and more. (Bike lanes in Chicago are majority funded by grants from the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality subsidiary funding.)

For more information, stay tuned with Active Transportation Alliance and Transportation 4 America.

You can get involved now by calling Illinois Senators Dick Durbin (312-353-4952) and Mark Kirk (312-886-3506).

Lastly, there’s a rally in Chicago next week, on Tuesday, September 20, at Union Station, to show your support for transit.

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