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US Senate Transportation Hearing: Few Details Emerge
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) held a full Senate Transportation Committee hearing today on their proposed transportation re-authorization bill. The committee heard testimony from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, the Laborers’ International Union of North America President Terence O'Sullivan, Donald James of Vulcan Materials, AASHTO Director Susan Martinovich, Oklahoma DOT Secretary Gary Ridley, the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Transportation Policy Director Deron Lovaas, and Greg Cohen of the American Highway Users Alliance.
Panelists were supportive of the idea of a two year bill at current levels, although no additional specifics were shared. Mayor Villaraigosa spoke favorably of the proposed expansion of TIFIA, a federal infrastructure loan program, and the DOT officials praised the streamlining policy changes in the bill. The Senators on the committee spoke of the need for a bill to pass and seemed supportive of this bill and appreciative of the bi-partisan effort that Boxer, Inhofe, and their colleagues put into it. At the end of the session, each panelist promised to work for its passage.
Few new details emerged. Senator Boxer mentioned in passing -- during a question to the Mayor about TIFIA -- that Safe Routes to School, "bike paths", and Recreational Trails are in the bill but did not elaborate. The importance of bicycling was also mentioned by Senator Frank Lautenberg and Deron Lovaas, whose written testimony included more extensive mention of bicycle and pedestrian benefits.
We will continue to monitor events as they progress.