Will state DOTs be allowed to opt out of federal highway program?

Legislation now exists that would grant the flexibility, but support is thin

Funding News Roads & Bridges August 03, 2011
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State DOTs may be able to make federal highway funding extensions a thing of the past. A group of Senators have joined together to create the State Transportation Flexibility Act, which would allow state highway agencies to opt out of the Federal-Aid Highway and Mass Transit programs. Instead, these states would be able to manage and spend the gas-tax revenue collected within their own borders on transportation projects without federal mandates or restrictions.

“For too long, Indiana has been a donor state and sent more gas-tax dollars to Washington than it has received back,” said Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), who is one of nine Senators that support the bill. “This isn’t fair to Hoosier taxpayers, which is why I support the State Highway Flexibility Act. Hoosiers know our state’s transportation needs better than bureaucrats in Washington, and Indiana should be able to control its own resources.”

This new movement, however, appears to have a minority backing.

“I do not see that there is a ground swell of support in the Senate for that legislation,” Matt Jeanneret, senior vice president, Communications & Marketing, for the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, told ROADS & BRIDGES. “That is what you expect to see from [bill co-sponsor Tom] Coburn who has always been fairly critical of the program.

“There is a bipartisan proposal that exists right now from the Senate EPW Committee to maintain investment levels over the next two years and that legislation presumes a continued strong federal role in transportation. That is the universe that we are working with right now.”

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