AASHTO's Future of Transportation for 2012: CTAI's Take

Thursday, January 05, 2012

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) identified its list of top ten transportation topics for 2012. Below is our take on those that apply to CTAI’s members and Idaho:

1. Enacting a long-term transportation bill: CTAI will continue to work with Idaho’s congressional delegation and staff to push for the enactment of a long-term transportation bill.

2. Managing in lean times – addressing the problem of the nation’s aging bridges, highways, and transit systems with stagnant or reduced funding: As one of two states without a dedicated source of transportation funding, and given the current economic times, CTAI is working to educate Idahoans in support of transportation funding. We received a grant to develop the I’M4CTAI campaign in which we sign up at least 1,000 transportation supporters to advocate on behalf of Idaho’s transportation needs and sources of funding.

3. Responding to and planning for natural disasters: CTAI has been working with the Idaho Department of Homeland Security and is now working with the Idaho Department of Water Resources to identify Idaho’s transportation resources for recovery and rebuilding – in the event of a natural disaster in our state. Our partnerships with these agencies will help mobilize the vehicles needed to help get Idahoans out of danger and to help transportation providers rebuild after the disaster.

4. Reducing traffic deaths: CTAI supports safer roads and reduced deaths on Idaho roads and highways. CTAI will provide support for any legislation that improves traffic safety for Idahoans.

5. Increasing the visibility of transportation as an issue in the upcoming presidential campaign: CTAI will work through national agencies in the education of long term transportation needs for our politicians.

6. Generating new ways to fund transportation: As part of the I’M4CTAI campaign, CTAI will work to mobilize advocates and partner agencies in support of a local option tax authority to help cities and counties fund transportation needs in Idaho.

7. Advancing intercity passenger rail

8. Engaging the business community in support of transportation: CTAI mobility managers and staff will continue to educate Idaho Businesses on the benefits of improving transportation options such as public transportation, carpooling, vanpooling, and ridematching.

9. Serving a growing elderly population, both rural and urban: CTAI mobility managers and staff will continue to partner with senior centers and agencies that serve the elderly population in identifying opportunities and partnerships that will lead to improved transportation options for seniors.

10. Responding to new stormwater reforms and other environmental regulations.

Drop Proposed Changes to the House Rules Regarding the Highway Trust Fund

Monday, December 27, 2010
Under current House rule, members may not offer a bill, joint resolution, amendment or conference report that reduces spending levels for highway, highway safety, and public transportation below the funding amounts that are specified in the authorization law (in this case, extensions of SAFETEA-LU). This rule holds regardless of the source of the revenues that support those spending levels.

In the House Rule package for the 112th Congress, Republicans propose to change this current rule. The change would eliminate the provisions which require appropriation funding for highways and transit to be identical to levels set in the authorizing law. This would create opportunities for user fees and transit general fund resources to be used for non-transportation purposes. For example, the new rule would allow members to offer amendments to direct highway and transit resources to other purposes, such as deficit reduction.

As you may recall from the Governor’s Task Force on Modernizing Transportation Funding December 2010 report, Idaho’s transportation system has a significant funding shortfall of more than $400 million. This proposed House Rule could lower the federal funding Idaho receives for transportation making the funding shortfall for highways and public transportation even larger.

CTAI is working alongside transportation providers, community leaders, and local citizens to improve mobility options in Idaho. We ask for everyone's support to drop the proposed changes to the House Rules regarding the Highway Trust Fund from the final package would significantly benefit Idaho’s transportation system and the Idaho citizens.

Local option should be an option

Monday, July 12, 2010

The local option debate is a hot topic for transportation providers, mobility advocates, local leaders, the Idaho legislature, and the Governor’s Taskforce for Modernizing Transportation Funding. It’s a topic that is certain to remain at the forefront of the public transportation funding conversation through the next legislative session.

In June, during his State of the City Address, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, again voiced his support for the local option tax as a way to fund public transportation in the city – calling on the Idaho State Legislature to let the people decide.

Treasure Valley in Motion put forth their own call to action to the Governor’s Taskforce for Modernizing Transportation Funding on Facebook – inviting other mobility advocates and groups to do the same, and inviting Idahoans to share their comments with the taskforce.

CTAI agrees that local option should be an option. Currently, Idaho is one of three states without a dedicated funding source for public transportation. The Public Transportation Subcommittee to the Governor’s Taskforce on Modernizing Transportation Funding is delving into the current public transportation environment in Idaho and evaluating possible funding mechanisms. Their report is due in December. As part of that report, CTAI hopes to see local option tax as one funding mechanism.

Idaho’s public transportation and mobility coordination and planning system, I-way, is built on a local to state model. Local communities are identifying their unique mobility needs, developing strategies around realizing those needs, and submitting their plans to their district and then the state level. Providing options for local communities to fund their strategies is a logical next step.

While CTAI is in support of providing cities the ability to go to the voters, local option isn’t the answer to all of Idaho’s public transportation funding issues. There are a lot of things to consider when looking at funding for improving our public transportation and mobility options. We need to consider urban areas and rural communities. We need to continue to come together to coordinate, develop efficiencies in the system we have, and build partnerships to get where we’d like to be. In addition, we need to have a variety of funding mechanisms to improve public transportation and mobility in Idaho.