Do something about transportation funding, today


New and maintained trains? Forget it. Photo by John Iwanski. 

If you are on the mailing list of any transportation advocacy group, or have been reading Streetsblog, this blog, and other websites, you may have noticed that transportation funding for transit, bicycle, and pedestrian projects is falling on the cutting room floors of two of the House of Representatives’s committees: Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I), and Ways and Means (W&M). Full information on these issues was posted this morning.

Each committee has a bill that screws over funding that buys buses and trains, builds train stations, sidewalks, and cycling trails. You can ask your representatives to vote no on these bills. Here’s what to do:

Transportation and Infrastructure committee

It’s probably too late today to do anything about this, but you should ask your Representative to vote no on H.R.7. This bill repeals programs on safety, Safe Routes to School, and Transportation Enhancements.

Find your representative, or contact the following representatives from Illinois on this committee:

  • Daniel Lipinski – 3rd district – closes at 5 PM
    (202) 225 – 5701
    (866) 822 – 5701
  • Tim Johnson – 15th district – closes at 5 PM
    (202) 225-2371
  • Randy Hultgren – 14th district – closes at 4 PM
    (202) 225-2976
  • Jerry Costello – 12th district – closes at 5 PM
    (202) 225-5661

Ways and Means committee

Voting on H.R.3864 happens Friday morning. Ask your representative to vote no. This bill removes the Mass Transit Account from the Highway Trust Fund and leaves its funding up in the air, fighting for General Revenues along with thousands of other programs, instead of having a dedicated funding stream (gas taxes).

Find your representative, or contact the following  representatives from Illinois on this committee:

  • Aaron Schock – 18th district – unknown close time
    (202) 225-6201
  • Peter Roskam – 6th district – closes at 5 PM
    (202) 225-4561

House of Representatives transportation bill fraught with bad ideas


Funding for trails? Forget it, say House Republicans. Photo by Eric Rogers.

Updated 15:36: See additions to this article under “updates”

No matter how you get around, whether on foot, by bike, in a car, on a bus or by train or water taxi, the federal surface transportation bill impacts your travel.

The surface transportation bill does essentially two things:

1. It sets national transportation policy. This includes plans on how much to subsidize monthly car parking for workers, monthly transit passes (see note 1); regional planning; safety goals; and environmental protection from vehicle pollution and infrastructure impacts.

2. Defines which transportation modes and programs get how much money.

A majority of trains, buses, bike lanes, roads, and highways in Chicagoland were built with funding from the surface transportation bill. And they continue to be majority-funded by federal tax dollars, year after year.

The last surface transportation bill is called SAFETEA-LU and it expired on September 30, 2009, at the end of fiscal year 2009 – Transportation 4 America has a clock counting the time since expiration. Since then, it has been extended many times while Congressional committees and representatives work on a new one.

A new one may be enacted this year!

Continue reading House of Representatives transportation bill fraught with bad ideas