The House Appropriations Committee released the "Fiscal Year 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Bill" earlier this week, following last week's Transportation Department's GROW AMERICA proposal for authorization of the Transportation Bill. Tanya Snyder, reporting for Streetsblog USA, details the disappointment to be found in the bill for advocates of multi-modal transportation spending. "While previous GOP appropriations proposals have eliminated TIGER grant funding altogether, this proposal allocates $100 million for TIGER, down from the $600 million the program got this year. More horrifically, the GOP proposes to limit TIGER grants to projects that 'address critical transportation needs,' defined as roads and bridges, ports and freight rail."
"And just to be clear about what they mean, the GOP adds, 'The legislation does not allow these funds to be used for non-essential purposes, such as street-scaping, or bike and pedestrian paths.' Also ineligible are transit projects that would be eligible for New Starts or other FTA grants, carpool projects, ADA compliance for sidewalks, highway and transit safety improvements, planning, congestion mitigation, intelligent transportation systems, anything related to congestion pricing (including electric toll collection and travel demand management), or recreational trails."
As a counterpoint, the Obama Administrations proposal, released last week and assumed to be dead on arrival, would double the TIGER program. To keep the GOP Appropriations proposal in perspective—the bill is contingent on authorization guiding transportation spending for 2015, of which there is none, yet. As Snyder says: "Nothing can be appropriated that isn’t authorized."