The federal law setting nation transportation funding and policy, SAFETEA-LU, is set to expire on September 30, 2009. The huge bill has regulated everything from the New Starts transit program to thousands of pork-barrel transportation projects around the country. With unprecedented concern over global warming, a new president in November, and popular frustration with congestion on both transit and highways, there may be the opportunity for a major revision in federal policy. In this post I review some of the debate so far, and outline the proposals recently released by an independent commission.
To paraphrase the New York Times' summation of the Anaheim Angels' rhetorical exodus to Los Angeles a few years ago: some ideas are so stupid that you just have to stand back and watch. To that I would add, some things are so stupid that they deserve derision no matter how long ago they occured. Though it crawled out from the Senate floor in the summer of 2005, SAFETEA-LU -- the $240 billion federal transportation bill -- has, for the past two years, gotten off way too easy.