A new federal transportation reauthorization bill unveiled this week by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica is drawing scorn from proponents of increased investment in U.S. infrastructure, bicycle and pedestrian interests, safety proponents, train lovers, transit advocates, environmentalists and even conservatives.
According to various reports the bill wouldn't increase the nation's investment in transportation; would eliminate a current requirement that 2 percent of funding be set aside for bike and ped and other nonhighway purposes; cut funding to Amtrak; eliminate funding toward developing high-speed passenger rail; eliminate the Safe Routes to Schools program; put transit funding at risk; and allow heavier trucks on the highways and bridges that we aren't maintaining.
So, what's not to like? Well, U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., has some choice words, including "farce." Watch his putdown of the legislation (and of his colleagues for not reading it before voting on amendments).
The old reauthorization law expired in September 2009 and Congress has extended it seven times rather than pass a new one. State transportation departments hate this, because they can't plan for longer-term construction projects not knowing what Congress will eventually do.
Here's more from DeFazio, this time on "mean-spirited" elimination of Safe Routes to Schools program.
The Natural Resources Defense Council calls it the "worst transportation bill ever."
"Here we go again.
"House Republicans have an opportunity to pass transportation legislation that would help fix our roads and bridges, improve our commutes and create new jobs.
"What have they decided to do instead?
"Load up their version of a transportation bill with an ideological wish list - drafted with Big Oil companies in mind - that will prevent Congress from passing a measure that could provide real transportation improvements.
"Here’s the latest: The Ways and Means Committee (Friday) is scheduled to take up another provision that threatens to significantly slash funding for public transit throughout the United States."
Transportation for America, a broad-based coalition of groups that advocate reforms, also weighed in. Here's the group's director, James Corless, on the Ways and Means action.
“We are deeply concerned that if this measure passes, Americans who use public transportation, or who would like that option in the future, will be thrown under the bus. This couldn’t come at a worse time for people who need an affordable, reliable way to get to work, or for employers who need workers.”
Even the conservative Club for Growth hates the bill, for a different reason. The group thinks it spends too much.
Based on the outcry coming from so many directions, it's hard to imagine this legislation hitting President Obama's desk anytime soon.