Early Friday morning, after a marathon 18 hour markup, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed H.R. 7, the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, the reauthorization of the surface transportation bill, by a vote of 29-24. The committee considered nearly 100 amendments, including an amendment to restore Safe Routes to School and dedicated funding for the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program. The bill is expected to be debated on the House floor the week of February 13.
Despite the tremendous efforts of ASLA advocates and other active transportation activists, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voted not to accept the bipartisan Petri/Johnson/Lipinski Amendment that would have maintained the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program and restored dedicated funding for the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program. The amendment failed by a vote of 27-29.
Without the Petri/Johnson/Lipinski Amendment, H.R. 7, the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act will completely eliminate the Safe Routes To School program, and eliminate dedicated funding for the Transportation Enhancements program, leaving TE projects to compete for prioritization with all other surface transportation projects in state Departments of Transportation (DOTs). Under the bill, several TE categories are eliminated, including: acquisition of scenic or historic easements, historic preservation, rehabilitation and operation of historic transportation facilities, preservation of abandoned railway corridors, and establishment of transportation museums. The measure also eliminates the bicycle and pedestrian coordinator positions for state DOTs.
For more on ASLA Transportation priorities www.asla.org/advocacy