Opening Statement of
SENATOR JAMES M. JEFFORDS
THE COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS
TRANSPORTATION PLANNING AND SMART GROWTH
May 15, 2002.
Good morning. Welcome to todayís hearing on Transportation Planning and Smart Growth.
We are joined this morning by a number of fine witnesses from around the nation. I appreciate their willingness to lend a hand as we proceed with our examination of the nationís surface transportation program.
Our topic this morning - transportation planning - is one of the linchpins of the new thinking introduced by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, or ISTEA, as it has come to be known. In passing ISTEA, Congress inaugurated the post-Interstate era. With its enactment, our transportation program moved from a focus on new highway construction to a recognition that transportation is a means to an end. We recognized that our investments in transportation and other infrastructure mold and shape our communities. Beyond community form, we saw transportationís influence on peopleís daily lives, on the time they spent away from their families, on their very health and well being.
Because of transportationís broad ramifications, ISTEA provided states and, for the first time, local officials, wide latitude in the use of Federal - aid dollars. ISTEA provided flexibility - the freedom to move federal money from category to category, as best fit the needs of the given state or metropolitan area.
I had the honor to serve on this Committee during the enactment of ISTEA. At the time, we recognized that with the freedom of flexibility came enormous responsibility. The highway program alone has provided $300 billion - taxpayersí dollars - to state and local officials. Stewardship of those funds demands great care. The transportation planning provisions of ISTEA were intended to ensure that care.
The idea is simple. Lets think before we act. Before spending Federal-aid dollars, state and metro officials would first assess needs, communicate with citizens, coordinate with stakeholders and realistically forecast financial resources. This basic planning process would guide and inform the investments to follow.
TEA 21 - the Transportation Equity Act for the Twenty First Century of 1998 - - refined the ISTEA planning provisions, but retained its basic thrust. As a result, we now have ten years of experience in this new way of doing the nationís transportation business. Today, we will explore lessons learned over those ten years. We will also examine a range of ideas for the future of the planning program.
Our first panel consists of practitioners from across the Federal, state and local spectrum. They include:
-- Ms. Cynthia Burbank of the Federal Highway Administration.
-- Mr. Kenneth J. Leonard of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, on behalf of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
-- Mr. Ronald Kirby from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, on behalf of the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations.
-- Mr. Peter Gregory from the Two Rivers Ottauguechee Regional Commission in Woodstock, Vermont on behalf of the National Association of Regional Council.
Our second panel will offer a range of views on the effectiveness of the planning program and on its scope going forward. The second panel will include:
-- Mr. Andrew Cotugno of the Portland, Oregon MPO, known as METRO.
-- Ms. Judith Espinosa from the University of New Mexico, on behalf of the Surface Transportation Policy Project.
-- Ms. Jennifer Joy Wilson, on behalf of the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association
-- Mr. Wendell Cox from Belleville, IL
-- Mr. Tom Downs of the University of Maryland
Again, thanks to the panelists for their participation this morning.