At its April meeting, the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) approved a set of policy principles calling on the U.S. Congress to substantially increase federal funding for transportation and ensure an explicit focus on the maintenance of the nation’s transportation infrastructure as part of the reauthorization of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), the federal surface transportation program set to expire in May.
As the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) for the Washington region, the TPB has the responsibility under provisions of MAP-21 to develop and carry out a continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive transportation planning process. The TPB approved principles that will ensure sustained, long-term federal funding to support state and local agencies in planning and building transportation facilities that meet the challenges of the future and spur economic growth in the region. The policy principles emphasize the following:
- Increasing sustained federal transportation funding to close the gaps in maintenance, operations, and expansion of the nation’s transportation system through such strategies as increasing the federal fuel tax or other user-based systems or fees, incentivizing federal support and coordination of innovative financing, utilizing savings from tax reform legislation, and creating infrastructure banks or bonding programs.
- Focusing increased funding on priority needs like keeping the nation’s infrastructure in a state of good repair and easing metropolitan congestion; this includes reaffirming a commitment to multi-modal transportation systems to reduce dependency on driving and enhancing federal funding for public transit.
- Ensuring effective planning and project development through adequate and timely federal support, strengthened federal planning and environmental review processes, and an expanded national freight program.
View the list of principles.
The TPB has regularly communicated its positions regarding federal transportation legislation to Congress, including policy principles in 2002 and 2008, and a letter on May 21, 2014 calling upon Congress to protect the Highway Trust Fund from insolvency. The TPB also noted that in recent years Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia have taken major steps to raise new revenues for transportation; however, the inadequacy of federal funding remains a critical concern.