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Transportation Enhancements Make For Easy Targets - Even If Distorted

Do you want your transportation dollars spent on the National Corvette Museum, turtle tunnels, giant roadside coffee pots, restoration of Battleship Texas? These are some of the "tall tales" being spun by Republicans about the transportation bill.
October 31, 2011, 10am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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In September, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) delayed an extension of the current transportation bill (that expired two years ago) in his effort to target transportation enhancements, a required component of transporation spending in the transportation authorization legislation. Now that a 'clean' extension was approved, the Senate Environment and Public Works committee is crafting the new bill and Coburn, while not a member, has resumed his efforts that have spread to his Republican colleagues. "He produced a list of 39 projects that he said exemplify extravagance at a time when states don't have enough money to repair structurally deficient bridges."

Never mind that many of the claims appear to be distorted. Because enhancements include twelve categories that include environmental mitigation, transportation museums, and historical preservation, some projects, on their face, make for easy targets when the nation's transportation infrastructure is in an alarming state of disrepair.

"They are trying to eliminate a requirement that states use a portion of their highway aid for 'transportation enhancements,' 12 categories of projects from bike and walking paths to scenic overlooks and landscaping."

Enhancement opponents falsely claim that 10% of (total) federal transportation aide go to enhancements - the correct percentage is 1.5%, though it is true that 10% of funding in the transportation reauthorization bill is required to be spent on them.

From Washington Post: Federal transportation funding mandates - the coming Capitol Hill battle: "The looming Capitol Hill battle over transportation priorities in a budget-slashing era may have found its lightning rod issue: bike paths, pedestrian walkways and wildflowers planted by the side of the road."

Thanks to Rachel Selig Nader

Full Story:
Published on Sunday, October 30, 2011 in Huffington Post
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