A national dialogue on the future of the country's transportation network was launched today when the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee staged a hearing on the final report of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission. Titled "Transportation for Tomorrow" and the result of 20 months of work, the report was released at a Washington press conference earlier this week. "The Commission's report will be seen as the first transformational chapter in transportation policy in the 21st Century," said House Transportation Committee Chair James L. Oberstar (D-Minn.).
Calling for a "new beginning" for the nation's transportation programs, the bipartisan report envisions refocusing federal transportation programs while maintaining a strong federal role in surface transportation. Recommendations can be grouped into three Rs:
- reforming how the nation upgrades and expands its transportation network, from how we pick projects to how we build them;
- restructuring the federal transportation investment program to concentrate on areas of genuine national interest; and
- generating new revenue to close the investment gap.
The three Rs are designed to work together to promote a stronger economy, faster commutes and cleaner air, and to save lives.
Congress formed the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission in 2005 as part of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act—A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). The Commission is comprised of 12 members, representing federal, state and local governments; metropolitan planning organizations (including MTC Executive Director Steve Heminger); transportation-related industries; and public interest organizations. The Commission examined the condition and future needs of the nation's surface transportation system, as well as short- and long-term funding alternatives.