A bill to give local governments greater access to transportation funds has bipartisan sponsors in the House of Representatives.
The Innovation in Surface Transportation Act, introduced late last month, would let local communities access a much more significant share of federal transportation funds. The legislation would set aside a share of various federal programs that flow to state departments of transportation, which would be distributed to cities and towns through a competitive grant process. The amount of funding reserved for local governments would add up to $5.6 billion per year.
The grants would be awarded by a committee of state and local officials, based on nine criteria, including potential to attract private investment and to promote “multimodal connectivity.” (Full text here [PDF].)
Currently, less than 15 percent of federal transportation funds are allocated to localities, according to Transportation for America.
The legislation is sponsored by Congressman Rodney Davis (R-Illinois) and Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-Nevada). Sponsors say the bill will help ensure that increasingly scarce transportation funds are directed toward the highest-priority projects.
“This bill recognizes our nation’s fiscal realities by giving preference to projects that strengthen the return on investment, encouraging public-private partnerships and increasing transparency so that every federal dollar spent goes a little bit further,” said Davis.