Complete Streets Provision Eliminated From Final Transpo Bill

Transportation for America, the big-tent coalition for transportation reform, tends to be careful about the statements it puts out. Its folks are diplomatic, since they work with both sides on the Hill and a wide variety of coalition members. Yesterday, as details of the conference report were leaking out, they wanted to read the whole bill before weighing in publicly. Now that they’ve absorbed it all, they’ve come out swinging.

Language requiring accommodation to nonmotorized users was struck from the final bill. Photo: Charlotte DOT via National Complete Streets Coalition

“Senate Capitulates to House Demands,” today’s statement reads, “Eliminates Critical Provisions in Transportation Bill.”

T4A goes on:

Despite initial rumors that negotiations would lead to some real progress on essential transportation needs, the ‘compromise’ undoes progress from previous bills and provides little vision for the future.

We’ll have details throughout the day on the significant provisions in the bill and how they differ from current policy.

Yesterday we mentioned the watered-down funding provisions for street safety projects compared to the Senate bill. Turns out that isn’t the only way that the final bill weakens biking and walking.

Indeed, the complete streets provision that passed with bi-partisan support in the Senate was eliminated from the final bill. “It was included in the Commerce committee’s freight title, which had come under fire from House Republicans for unrelated reasons,” said Barbara McCann of the National Complete Streets Coalition in a statement this morning.

The street safety (or “complete streets”) amendment [PDF] introduced by Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) ordered the Secretary of Transportation to “establish standards to ensure that the design of Federal surface transportation projects provides for the safe and adequate accommodation, in all phases of project planning, development, and operation, of all users of the transportation network, including motorized and non-motorized users.”

McCann did note a silver lining: the Highway Safety Improvement Program language in the report includes a new, more comprehensive definition of street users that is based on Complete Streets language.

Meanwhile, the Chair of the Banking Committee, which wrote and negotiated the transit title of the bill, just released a statement that barely mentions transit. Jobs, safer highways, student loans, flood insurance: check. Transit: not so much. More to come.