Perhaps Congress just needs a little more time to think it through.
In a proposal titled “Moving Past Gridlock: A Proposal for a Two-Year Transportation Law,” Robert Puentes of the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program believes the politicians on Capitol Hill need to pass something more than highway funding extensions that expire in a matter of months.
By moving through a two-year bill, which Puentes said should be dubbed SAFETEA-TWO, Congress should be able to figure out the parameters and funding mechanisms to the next six-year transportation package. The House of Representatives recently passed a nine-month extension to SAFETEA-LU.
In his report, Puentes also makes the following suggestions:
• Model a new evaluation system for project proposals on TIGER;
• Move past the federal gas tax and create a new user-fee system;
• Put together a strategy to move freight more effectively;
• Create a national policy for road pricing;
• Offer federal incentives to encourage those at the local level to generate their own revenue streams;
• Set up a unified infrastructure financing system that would lead to a National Infrastructure Bank;
• Engage in more public-private partnerships;
• Offer more rewards for the on-time delivery of projects;
• Dedicate more federal funds for rail maintenance; and
• Reduce the legacy programs.
The two-year strategy would cover the next presidential election, and Puentes hopes with an improved economy a gas-tax increase might gain some traction.