Wednesday, February 13 2008 @ 12:48 PM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
As part of the $286.5 billion SAFETEA-LU federal transportation bill, Congress asked for the formation of a National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission to develop recommendations for the reauthorization of SAFETEA-LU. The 12-person Committee was charged with analyzing current and future needs for transportation; evaluating short term and long terms funding sources for the Highway Trust Fund; and framing policy recommendations for 15, 30 and 50 years.
The Commission included 12 individuals from throughout the Country, met for two years, and released its Transportation Tomorrow report in January 2008. Unfortunately, Safe Routes to School was not mentioned once, and walking and bicycling were generally left out of the 258 page document.
Deb Hubsmith, Director of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership says, "With nearly 10 percent of trips in the United States already being on foot or by bicycle, it's alarming that non-motorized modes were completely ignored in the Transportation Tomorrow report. We're going to have to make our case directly to Congress and show how Safe Routes to School improves public health, decreases traffic congestion, increases safety, and is an important part of the national transportation agenda. Any discussion about 'Transportation Tomorrow' should absolutely include a focus on today's children and how they travel to and from school. Many studies have shown how the built environment affects public health, physical activity and obesity, so its surprising that this report failed to make that important connection."
The report called for a "new authorization" of the next transportation bill, urging Congress to do away with the current structure and to collapse 108 current programs (including Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements, Recreational Trails, CMAQ, etc) into 10 broad categories. It also called for performance-based decision making for investments, raising the gas tax by 25-40 cents/gallon, and for consideration of additional funding techniques such as measurement of VMT, congestion pricing, and public-private partnerships.