Warner Scores a (Small) Win for White House’s Transportation Agenda

While it pushes for an 18-month delay in the next federal infrastructure bill, the Obama administration has proposed a data collection effort that would help states and localities begin tracking ridership and usage of transit, roads, buses, and the like — a small put pivotal step towards enacting national performance standards for transportation.

markwarner.jpgSen. Mark Warner (Photo: NYDN)

Yet the Senate has insisted on passing a "clean" extension of existing transport law this month, making even bone-dry funding for data collection potentially off-limits. Last night Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) stepped into the debate, winning passage of an amendment to the U.S. DOT’s 2010 spending bill that would allow any money set aside for transportation research to also "be used for [work on] data collection procedures and national performance measures."

Warner’s amendment would appear to resolve the administration’s quandary over getting approval for new data collection without upsetting the transportation detente between Senate environment committee chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and her panel’s top GOPer, Sen. Jim Inhofe (OK).

But consider that the White House had sought $310 million to help state DOTs and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) embark on the arduous but necessary path of empirically tracking transportation performance.

The pot of research money that Warner proposed opening up for the development of national performance measures totals $8.2 million in the Senate’s version of the U.S. DOT spending bill. The House version of the bill dedicated $14.7 million to research.

It would seem that there’s still a lot more room for funding to be set aside for data collection as part of Congress’ unavoidable move to extend the 2005 federal transport law. The question is, will Warner be introducing another version of his amendment when the 18-month delay comes to the Senate floor?

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

25 Senators Demand Robust Transit Funding

|
In a letter to Finance Committee leaders [PDF], 25 senators today urged adequate funding for mass transit in the next transportation authorization bill. The letter notes that public transportation systems find themselves in a budgetary crisis just as more and more people, driven by $4/gallon gas, are seeking out transportation options. During the worst economic […]

Kerry, Hutchison, and Warner Introduce New Infrastructure Bank Bill

|
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), along with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) just announced that they’re introducing the BUILD Act today, which would create a national infrastructure bank. They’re proposing to start the bank with $10 billion of seed money that would leverage hundreds of billions of dollars, according to their […]

The Name Says It All: U.S. Senate Unveils the DRIVE Act

|
What does Congress envision for the future of transportation in the U.S.? Hint: The Senate’s transportation bill is called the DRIVE Act. Caron Whitaker at the League of American Bicyclists reports: As is evident in the acronym, The Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act, or DRIVE Act, is not focused on improving multi-modal transportation but rather […]