Transportation Deal Reached

Had a deal with Sen. Tom Coburn not been reached on Friday, a shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration would have begun Saturday morning. Coburn's issue, characterized by NPR as 'flowers vs. bridges', will be dealt with in final bill.
September 17, 2011, 5am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Rather than using the term, 'transportation enhancements' that amount to 1.5 percent of federal transportation funds, NPR reporter Tamara Keith opted to use 'beautification projects' in her description of Sen. Coburn's concern that caused the hold-up:

"Senator Coburn was concerned about part of the bill that directs a small share of highway finding to beautification projects. So, bike paths, museums, beautification on the side of the roads that type of thing. And what he was saying is that states should be able to choose whether they spend money on those things or direct all of their federal funds to bridge repairs and highways."

As the Streetsblog pie-chart shows, landscaping/scenic beautification account for 13%, transportation museums for 1.5%, while bike and pedestrian programs account for 50% of what are generically called 'enhancements'.

Sens. Boxer (D-CA) and Inhoff (R-OK) "spent a lot of time working with Senator Coburn on an agreement that in the longer-term highway bill so not this one, these temporary extensions, but the long-term, more permanent bill that his concerns would be addressed. And so they apparently agreed that in the future, states will be able to decide if they want to pay for flowers or pay for bridges." (sic).

From Streetsblog Capitol Hill: Last-Minute Deal Preserves Bike/Ped Funding. But For How Long?: "In exchange for releasing his stranglehold on the Senate (and the estimated 80,000 workers that could lose their jobs, at least temporarily, if the FAA bill lapsed) Coburn will get to insert his language into the long-term bill, when this latest extension expires."

Thanks to Steve Sondheim

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Published on Thursday, September 15, 2011 in NPR
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