Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
2009 Transportation Bill

A Federal Transportation Bill Is Coming… But When?

Speaking to members of the National Retail Federation earlier today, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood sidestepped what's becoming one of the peskiest unanswered questions on the Hill: Will Congress delay the federal transportation bill until next year?

In his address to the retailers' group, LaHood stuck mostly to his department's progress in allocating its $48 billion share of the economic stimulus bill. That stimulus money would create so many jobs by summertime, LaHood predicted jokingly, that many Americans would be "irritated" by the sight of "people putting up orange cones" on roads slated for repair.

When the topic turned to the timing of the forthcoming transportation bill, however, LaHood offered few specifics. The former GOP congressman declined to address a report in today's CongressDaily, a subscription-only Capitol newsletter, that the six-year transportation bill "is almost certain to be punted to next year, if not significantly scaled back."

LaHood did little to quell rumors of a delay in his remarks about the uncertainty surrounding new funding sources for the bill. "There is going to be a huge debate" over covering the predicted shortfall in the federal highway trust fund, he said. "At some point there will be a bill that'll come out of Congress" that will address the funding question.

So far, the Obama administration has ruled out raising the federal gas tax as well as imposing a tax on vehicle miles traveled (VMT), deeming both options politically unpalatable during an economic recession. Asked by one retailer about alternative funding options, LaHood mentioned increasing tolls on highways, expanding public-private partnerships, and acting on the president's proposal for a national infrastructure bank -- originally conceived as a $60 billion endeavor, but given $26 billion in the recent White House budget.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Friday’s Headlines Go Back to the Future

If you liked the first Trump administration's transportation policies, you're going to love the second Trump administration's transportation policies.

July 19, 2024

Advocates Share What It Takes to Fight Highway Expansions in Court 

What does it take to sue your state DOT? Time, money, the right partners, and a little creativity, a recent survey of activists found.

July 19, 2024

Friday Video: Paris Does it Again

Come for the bike-friendly streets, but stay for adopt-a-tree program and all the car-free school roadways.

July 19, 2024

Talking Headways Podcast: IrrePLACEable

Kevin Kelley on his book Irreplaceable: How to Create Extraordinary Places that Bring People Together, and the future of downtowns.

July 18, 2024

This Heat Wave is a Car Dependency Problem

Our quickly warming planet has a unique impact on people who don't or can't drive — and we need policy action to protect their health.

July 18, 2024
See all posts