Acronyms in government are legendary. How about SAFETEA-LU? Of course, that’s the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users. You knew that, right?
Federal funding of transportation programs, by any name, is at a crossroads. Gas taxes, the traditional funding source, are not enough to meet future needs.
Kathy Ruffalo, a consultant who also has experience on the government side of the equation, lists the following transportation challenges:
· Steady increase in congestion rates
· Continued loss of life on our highways (43,000 deaths each year)
· More freight tonnage moving by truck and rail
· Global competitors with aggressive transportation policies
If that wasn’t enough, two federal commissions were created to address the growing funding gap and its consequences. Their daunting names – National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission and National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission. Good luck with that.
Ruffalo says many federal officials “need convinced” about tolling and public-private partnerships. Bottom line, she adds, about the current legislation that expires on September 30, 2009. “Extensions will be painful; there is no money for extensions. Business as usual is not going to work and doing nothing is not an option.”