House GOP Won’t Let Transit-Oriented Development Get Federal TIFIA Loans

House Republicans introduced a six-year transportation bill this week, and while it’s not the utter disaster that past GOP proposals have been, advocates for smarter federal transportation policy are playing defense. Today, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee marked up the new bill. About 150 amendments were introduced, according to Transportation for America. All but a few were withdrawn before a vote.

Congresswoman Donna Edwards of Maryland. Photo: Wikipedia
Congresswoman Donna Edwards of Maryland sponsored a bill to extend subsidized loans to TOD projects, but the House GOP won’t have it. Photo: Wikipedia

One of the amendments that didn’t make it would have allowed cities and states to received financing for transit-oriented development projects from the federal TIFIA loan program. It was introduced by Representative Donna Edwards of Maryland. (Transportation for America has more about the amendment.)

Keep in mind that transit-oriented development saves public money by making the most of transit investments and cutting down on total infrastructure costs.

Edwards’ amendment was quickly withdrawn during today’s hearing when Committee Chair Bill Shuster issued an objection, saying transit-oriented development isn’t a “federal concern.” TIFIA loans will remain mostly the domain of highway projects.

Among the very expensive and highly dubious road projects currently receiving TIFIA financing is Ohio’s $1.2 billion Portsmouth Bypass, a 16-mile highway segment skirting a town of 20,000. Is that a federal concern?

Transit-oriented development yields more efficient use of infrastructure resources, cleaner air, and better access to opportunity. If cutting a few minutes off some truck trips can be classified as a federal concern, why not these benefits too? Freezing these projects out of a federal financing program is bad policy — and will probably end up costing America in the long run.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Just How Bad Is the Final House Transportation Bill?

|
Nobody was expecting the GOP-controlled House of Representatives to put together a transportation bill that did much for streets and transit in American cities. And they were right — there’s nothing to get excited about in the bill. But neither is it the total disaster for walking, biking, and transit it could have been. So how does the House bill […]

3 Bright Prospects for a Better Transportation Bill

|
Yesterday we reported on some of the terrible amendments that might get tacked on to the House transportation bill this week. But there are also some good ideas with bipartisan support among the hundreds of amendments submitted by members of the House. Here are three amendments that have the potential to improve transportation policy in the U.S. — should legislators give […]

Barbara Boxer’s Transportation Bill: Same As It Ever Was

|
The future of national transportation policy is pretty much like the present of national transportation policy, if the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has its way: underfunded and highway-centric. The bill released by Senator Barbara Boxer’s EPW Committee yesterday [PDF] rejects pretty much everything the Obama administration put forth in its bill, including permanent […]

Obama Admin’s Bold Transpo Plan Leaves Funding Question to Congress

|
The president’s six-year transportation plan [PDF], included as part of the administration’s FY2012 budget proposal, weighs in at a hefty $556 billion and lays out several policy reforms that, if enacted, could help the nation transition to a more multi-modal, less oil-dependent transportation system. The plan is a blueprint that Congress can use as a […]