Center for American Progress

RELEASE: A Reform Agenda for the U.S. Department of Transportation
Press Release

RELEASE: A Reform Agenda for the U.S. Department of Transportation

Washington, D.C. — A new report from the Center for American Progress proposes a new policy agenda for the U.S. Department of Transportation that would help stimulate long-term economic recovery and begin to address the racial discrimination historically embedded in transportation policy, ensuring that federal investments are equitable, sustainable, and targeted to communities facing the greatest need.

The report identifies the five greatest challenges facing the U.S. transportation system—major injuries and fatalities, climate change, congestion, unequal economic opportunity, and crumbling facilities—and proposes a menu of more than 30 policy solutions to address these challenges.

Some of the ideas described in the report include:

  • Promoting passenger rail: Establish a passenger rail account within the Highway Trust Fund with $8 billion annually to support capital and operations for Amtrak as well as capital expansion grants for high-speed intercity service. Additionally, states should be allowed to use their National Highway Performance Program funds for intercity passenger rail capital projects
  • Asset repair: States should be required to spend at least 70 percent of their National Highway Performance Program funds for repair, rehabilitation, and reconstruction projects, until all pavement and bridges on the NHS have achieved a state of good repair. Additionally, Congress should establish a stand-alone bridge repair program and prohibit the transfer of funds from this account until a state has eliminated all structurally deficient bridges.
  • Modeling the impact of greenhouse gas emissions: States should be required to model the estimated total greenhouse gas emissions from new highway capacity and then develop a plan to fully offset those emissions. The offsets could come from mobile or stationary sources as well as natural carbon offsets, including greenfield preservation and reforestation, among others.

“Federal infrastructure policy has not modernized to meet the major challenges facing the U.S. transportation system,” said Kevin DeGood, director of Infrastructure Policy at CAP. “Implementing the reform ideas in this report will ensure that federal dollars produce the greatest economic, social, and environmental return on investments, stimulating immediate employment and investment in communities facing the greatest need as well as laying a long-term foundation for inclusive prosperity.”

Read the report: “A Reform Agenda for the U.S. Department of Transportation” by Kevin DeGood

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Julia Cusick at [email protected].