Washington, D.C. — The National League of Cities (NLC) and 49 municipal leagues sent a letter to leaders on the House and Senate Transportation Committees urging support for local government transportation priorities in the reauthorization of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).
Across the nation, local governments own 78 percent of the nation’s road miles, 50 percent of the nation’s bridges, and operate the majority of the nation’s transit systems. At the same time, local governments are involved in less than a quarter of the $41 billion in federal funds spent on highways each year and have little say in how federal transportation dollars are invested in local communities.
In the letter, state municipal league leaders urged Congress to address these local government priorities in the next surface transportation bill:
• Provide local governments with long-term funding — Provide local governments with the certainty of a multi-year program so they can plan and fund transportation in their communities by addressing the shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund through an increase in the federal gasoline tax or alternative sources of revenue that do not interfere with local government ability to finance local needs.
• Send funding directly to the projects where people live and work by giving local leaders a stronger role in selecting projects — Increase the roles for local officials to make decisions about project funding through metropolitan planning organizations and rural planning organizations.
• Support alternative financing — Fund the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program, incentivize local innovation, and preserve the federal tax exemption for municipal bonds.
• Streamline the planning and approval process — Continue MAP-21 provisions that help cities deliver transportation projects quickly, eliminate red tape, and maintain environmental standards.
• Support public transportation systems of all sizes — Continue to fund transit programs from federal gas tax revenues and provide discretionary funding for both rural and urban transit systems to address major investments.