The fate of hundreds of millions of dollars for highways and transit is on the line as Congress works to pass a continuing resolution to keep funding the federal government through September.
The Senate has restored more than $500 million for highways and more than $100 million for transit that the House cut from the MAP-21 program, the major transportation funding bill signed by President Obama last year. So now the two chambers have to reach a compromise on their opposing measures as the current continuing resolution expires this month.
Rob Puentes is a transportation policy expert at the Brookings Institution. He says the year in, year out drama that now surrounds transportation funding causes unnecessary uncertainty about critical programs and projects.
"A lot of these transportation projects are multi-year in development, in execution, in delivery," Fuentes says. "These are not things that can be decided year in and year out. As a nation, we've got to figure out better, more long-term ways, more sustainable ways, to fund needed transportation projects without having to rely on this annual uncertainty which seems to be the norm instead of the exception now."
The cuts proposed by the House would not affect a special loan program that proponents of the Silver Line rail project have applied for to help finance the $5.5 billion rail extension to Dulles Airport.