Statement on House and Senate Passage of Transportation Bill

November 30, 2013

On behalf of 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, I want to commend the Republican and Democratic Leadership of the Pennsylvania General Assembly for reaching a reasonable compromise and passing the Transportation bill in the House last night and the Senate just this afternoon. 

We look forward to the Governor promptly signing this essential measure into law, so that critically needed funding can begin to flow to key transportation and transit projects throughout the Commonwealth.  Roughly 23% of this bill -- $2.2 billion over the next five years -- goes to cover much needed transit projects.  In addition, the bill makes a significant investment of nearly $700 million over the next five years in a first-ever Multi-Modal Fund.  

Having strongly advocated that at least 25% of all new funding go to transit – and singularly pressing leadership in the House and Senate for increased Multi-Modal Funding -- 10,000 Friends believes this compromise bill is a major step towards making the long term investments needed in our transit systems and other community-based transportation alternatives for bicyclists and pedestrians. 

This bill is an enormous improvement over the measure that stalled in the House at the end of June.  As a result of our advocacy and that of our close partners, we were able to secure $286 million over five years in additional funding above the June levels for the Multi-Modal Fund.  We also strongly supported the strategy that resulted in a $1.2 billion increase over five years in additional funding for transit not included in the June version.  These increases represent a real victory for those of us who argued that it was worth fighting for – and waiting for – a better bill.

We are tremendously gratified that the bill establishes this first-ever Multi-Modal Fund, which will include funding for the kinds of community transportation projects that we have championed for years. When fully implemented over the next 5 years, this new Multi-Modal Fund will provide $151 million annually for multi-modal transportation projects. Funding will now be available for bike and pedestrian projects along with street scape and main street improvements, including extended funding for safe routes to schools.  In a state where over 12% of traffic fatalities involved pedestrian and bicyclists, this funding will make our streets and highways safer, but also create more vibrant, healthier communities.

This is not a perfect bill by any means.  We wish it included more funding and more explicitly linked project investments with sound and established land-use and land-planning principles. But it is an important step forward. For 10,000 Friends and many others committed to building a prosperous and healthy Pennsylvania, this bill is a hopeful signal that despite our much too polarized politics the legislature can make difficult compromises and find common ground.

Jack Machek
10,000 Friends of PA

10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania is the leading statewide and regional advocated for creating great communities and the recognized authority on responsible land use.  Our vision is to have a positive impact on the built and natural environments through responsible and efficient land use.  Founded in 1998, our work improves the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians—we build and support coalitions of citizens, public officials, and organizations to create land use, infrastructure, and development policies, practices, and projects that strengthen our economy, conserve land, save money, promote public health, and reinvest in our diverse cities, towns, older suburbs, and rural communities.