New Infrastructure Bill Guts Transit, EVs, and Safety Programs

The proposed bill keeps road funding almost intact while cutting funding for electrification, rail, and community development.

2 minute read

August 15, 2021, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Amtrak Train

John H Gray / Flickr

Despite the "historic" level of funding for transit included in the current infrastructure bill, Kea Wilson writes that the similarly "historic funding for drivers" undercuts any potential progress. According to Wilson, writing before the "Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act" passed the Senate last week, "many sustainable transportation advocates were troubled by top-line funding ratios that would give transit a smaller percentage share of federal dollars than at any point since the Nixon administration, slash 95 percent of funding for a program that would reconnect BIPOC communities sundered by highways, and threw only crumbs to ending the accelerating roadway safety crisis."

Since the 1980s, "a handshake agreement in Washington has essentially guaranteed that drivers get 80 percent of federal infrastructure funding and transit agencies get 20 percent." Despite hopes that the new bill would tip the scale more towards transit, the current agreement does the opposite, "landing at roughly 82/18 — a slap in the face to advocates who hoped to see drivers split the pie 50/50, at the least." According to Renae Reynolds, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, "it’s a suicide mission that prioritizes cars and highways over more equitable and sustainable forms of transportation."

Wilson writes that "[t[he transit category lost about 54 percent of proposed stimulus funding as it went through the partisan sausage-grinder; the 'roads' category, by contrast, lost about 8 percent." Meanwhile, funding for electrification programs has been slashed by 90 percent from the original proposal and "new roadway safety spending could easily be undercut by the continuation of bad roadway policy."

Friday, July 30, 2021 in Streetsblog USA

Chicago Intercity Rail

Amtrak Ramping Up Infrastructure Projects

Thanks to federal funding from the 2021 infrastructure act, the agency plans to triple its investment in infrastructure improvements and new routes in the next two years.

September 25, 2023 - Smart Cities Dive

View of Interstate 205 bridge over Columbia River with Mt. Hood in background.

The Unceremonious Death of a Freeway Expansion Project

The end of an Oregon freeway project didn't get much fanfare, but the victory is worth celebrating.

September 19, 2023 - Streetsblog USA

Google maps street view of San Francisco alleyway.

Ending Downtown San Francisco’s ‘Doom Loop’

A new public space project offers an ambitious vision—so why is the city implementing it at such a small scale?

September 26, 2023 - Fast Company

Aerial view of coastal development and bright blue ocean in Kaua'i, Hawai'i.

Kaua’i County Uses Long-Range Models to Mandate Resiliency Standards

The county requires builders to assess potential flood risks using models that account for sea level rise projected as far out as 2100.

September 28 - Smart Cities Dive

Semi truck driving down freeway with twilight sky in background.

California Governor Vetoes Autonomous Truck Ban

Gov. Newsom called the new law unnecessary, citing existing efforts by state regulators to develop new rules around autonomous trucking.

September 28 - Wired

Roadside motel with turquoise room doors in Tucumcari, New Mexico.

Low-Barrier Motel Shelter Is a Success—But Not an Easy One

Many guests at Motels4Now are on their second or third stays—but staff say that's doesn't equal failure, and the numbers bear that out.

September 28 - Shelterforce Magazine

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.