As we all know, the six-year federal transportation bill has always been renamed every time it got authorized. First it was Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA). Then we had Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), with increasing evidence of an apparent fondness for tea. The next iteration was SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users), the last phrase added as a charming if somewhat cumbersome salute to Sen. Don Young’s wife.
Now we wait, and wait, and wait, for the next transportation bill. When TEA-21 languished in limbo month after month, so did many projects and programs. And commuters, the tax-paying public, continued to languish on congested roads, in congested airport facilities and on increasingly congested trains.
It can be formed by politicians who give lip service to criticizing pork and ignore the wealth of bipartisan transportation experts out there – you know, the contractors, engineers, architects, owners, consultants and planners who don’t consider a collapsing bridge “the other party’s fault.” It can be so completely diluted by petulant political pettiness that it won’t actually let states reward innovative project delivery methods and materials, or allow for reasonable streamlining of approvals, or encourage a truly national-minded comprehensive system. It will of course do nothing about the gas tax.
It’s no new news that the bitter partisanship on both sides of the Congressional aisle has done nothing good for any of America’s major problems, be it health care, education or infrastructure. I suggest a new name for the next bill: Lasting Accessible Transportation Efficiency: Land, Air, Marine, Environment.
P.S.: I actually thought of something far more controversial and dubiously tasteful, but as a corporate drone in a bad economy, I didn't dare leave it posted. It involved such innately valid words as sustainability, highways, intermodalism, and transit. However, I encourage readers to exercise their full free speech rights and come up with their own suggestions for the next title. Just be aware that we do have moderators.