On Wednesday, March 15th, the Senate approved two-year blueprint for transportation 17 days before current transportation funding and authority to collect the federal gas tax that support it are due to expire.
The blueprint gives states greater spending flexibility, allows the federal government to set minimum safety standards for subway systems and buys time to find a solution for a funding system teetering on the verge of bankruptcy.
“On March 31, if we don’t act on this transportation bill, everything will come to a screeching halt,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. “We are very close to the day when everything will stop.”
The Senate bill gives states money for projects that ease congestion and air pollution, reduces the number of federal transportation programs from about 90 to fewer than 30, increases highway safety funding, expands a federal program that provides loans and loan guarantees that encourage private investment and cuts red tape that delays projects.
Although the bill reshapes federal transportation programs and priorities, it does not solve the most pressing federal transportation problem: how to meet the financial demands of replacing systems nationwide that are reaching the end of their life span.