Let Locals Take Transportation Lead
What is the Federal role in building and maintaining America’s infrastructure? Today, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure will hold a hearing intended to answer that question. Although the witnesses possess a great deal of knowledge, they also possess an obvious predisposition to favor federal action.
Mayors and governors from both parties have been outspoken in their desire for more local control of transportation dollars and the associated cost of federal intervention. Theirs is an important voice in this debate, and one that will be sorely missed at today’s hearing.
Over the past year, governors like Virginia’s Bob McDonnell and mayors like Atlanta’s Kasim Reed have sought innovative approaches to their local transportation problems. The plans differed, as did the needs that led to the plans.
If present, local leaders could explain the constraints placed upon them by costly and time-consuming federal mandates, such as Davis-Bacon, the National Environmental Policy Act, small business and minority contracting requirements, etc. They could explain how, outside the federal one-size-fits-all program, they could tailor their transportation spending and investment to their particular needs.
There are strong and compelling arguments that the federal government should stop taking money from the states, running it through complex distribution formulas, and sending it back with strings attached. That is not the way to handle our nation’s transportation funding.
This is the debate we should be having.