White House Transportation Proposal Dismissed

C. Kenneth Orski summarizes the reation to the Obama Administration’s transportation reauthorization proposal in his most recent issue of Innovation NewsBriefs (Volume 22, No. 14, May 5, 2011). In short, the proposed legislation is being dismissed by most key players because it fails to grapple with the political realities of a fiscally constrained and divided government. While the full report will be posted at, Orski concludes:

In sum, the unreality of its [Obama Administration’s] fiscal ambitions and the political unpopularity of its key programmatic proposals has rendered the DOT’s legislative proposal “dead on arrival” in the judgment of congressional observers. That is not to say that the proposal deserves to be totally ignored. Many of its programmatic provisions — for example, those dealing with accelerated project delivery, tolling, highway and motor vehicle safety, “state of good repair” policy and freight policy—are worthy of consideration and will likely find their way into the final bill.

However, the Washington policy establishment is largely ignoring what it considers as a refusal by the drafters of the US DOT bill to face the facts. Instead, transportation stakeholders are eagerly awaiting the release (probably in late June) of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee bill reflecting the views and sentiments of its chairman John Mica (R-FL) and fellow committee members. It is safe to conclude that what is likely to emerge from that committee — and eventually approved by the full House and the Senate— will bear little resemblance to the U.S. Transportation Department’s legislative proposal.