Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Budget Concerns Slow ISTEA Funding Measure

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Budget Concerns Slow ISTEA Funding Measure

Article excerpt

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed S. 1173, the Intermodal Transportation Act or now known as ISTEA II in a less controversial manner than anticipated on Wednesday, September 17. On the House side a committee markup was postponed while funding levels are being worked out.

The Senate measure is controversial on the formula changes because it shifts fund from the Northeast to the South and Midwest to try to satisfy the donor states -- those states that give more revenues to the highway trust fund than they receive in return.

The bill is to reauthorize the nation's surface transportation program for six years and will modify the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA).

The only controversial amendment to local governments was withdrawn by Senator Inhofe (R-Okla.) to allow Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program funds to be used on highway expansion, which would have negative impacts on air quality. However, this amendment could be introduced on the floor.

ISTEA II stays within the balanced budget agreement and is a five-year bill. It continues the partnership with the federal, state, and local governments by preserving the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPOs) planning requirements. For programs that are important to local governments, its preserves the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) program, Surface Transportation Program (STP) and Enhancements. Under ISTEA, Enhancements were 10 percent of the STP. …

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