President's Corner

January 2018 Building Opportunities for the Next Generation

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DELAYS IN FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION FUNDING COSTS MILLIONS

Further delay in passing a fully-funded federal transportation plan will cost the region millions of dollars per day, reports the Chicago Tribune. The last multi-year plan expired in late 2009, and has since been granted eight short-term extensions, the most recent of which will expire on Saturday.

The trouble with short-term extensions is that planning agencies are often unwilling to commit to large projects due to the uncertainty of long term funding. The two options that have been floated aside from extensions are the Senate’s two-year, $109 billion plan and the House Republicans’ five-year $260 billion plan. Critics say that the Senate plan’s short duration prolongs the current trouble with securing large projects, and that the House GOP plan cuts out transit funding, which is vital in metropolitan areas like Chicago.

President Obama has proposed a six-year $476 billion plan, almost double the annual funding of the other two plans, in an effort to “keep construction workers on the job and keep our economy growing.” 

It seems that any plan that is to have hope of passage will have to be of several years, maintain current funding levels, and include funding for transit. When this kind of plan could be passed, however, is very uncertain. Election year politics have made bipartisan coalition building an immense challenge despite both parties’ stated desire for a comprehensive transportation bill.



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