TEA-21 Reauthorization: Getting Transportation Right for Metropolitcan America

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Brookings Institution, Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, 2003 - Federal aid to transportation - 19 pages
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Congress will soon decide how to allocate more than 200 billion over the next five years to preserve, modernize, and expand the U.S. surface transportation system. When it does, it will update two recent reforms of federal surface transportation law that inaugurated a new era of transportation policy in this country. The laws--the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991 and the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) in 1998 - gave states and metropolitan areas the certainty in funding and the flexibility in program design necessary to attempt new transportation solutions. However, as this brief outlines, the broad reforms boldly initiated on the federal level have not been uniformly implemented. For that reason, the brief argues that reauthorization this year requires Congress to cement and advance the gains achieved in the past decade, and respond more forcefully to the pressing transportation needs of metropolitan America. The brief, to that end, offers a comprehensive policy framework that calls for a two-step approach to reauthorization. Congress must preserve the innovative framework of ISTEA and TEA-21, and ensure that states attend to the needs of their metropolitan areas. It must also give metropolitan areas more powers and greater tools, in exchange for enhanced accountability, to get transportation policy right for their regions.

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