Wicker, Booker Introduce Innovative Transportation Bill

Bipartisan Measure Would Empower Local Leaders, Improve Grant Process

September 18, 2014

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today introduced bipartisan legislation that would give local officials more control over the transportation planning process in their states and communities. The “Innovation in Surface Transportation Act of 2014” is co-sponsored by Senators Thad Cochran, R-Miss., Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Mark Begich, D-Alaska.

“Local officials in Mississippi are on the front lines of America’s transportation challenges but often lack the resources to pay for critical improvements,” Sen. Wicker said. “This measure would enable these local leaders to have a larger role in deciding which projects merit consideration. In doing so, leaders could implement the most targeted and cost-effective solutions to meet unique and urgent infrastructure needs.”

“As a former mayor, I understand local leaders are often in the best position to make sound, cost-effective investment decisions,” said Sen. Booker. “This proposal will give New Jersey’s 565 municipalities a seat at the table and greater opportunities to fund innovative projects that will create jobs and boost the economy.”

Currently, less than 15 percent of all authorized federal highway funds and only one grant program are available to cities and counties. The grant program is overwhelmed with requests.

To combat this problem, the Wicker-Booker bill would allow local jurisdictions to compete for a larger share of federal funds on a competitive basis. Local jurisdictions, metropolitan planning organizations, transit providers, and others would be in charge of developing projects for consideration. Instead of federal bureaucrats making the decisions, a panel of local stakeholders would decide which projects to approve based on how the project could improve the transportation system, promote innovation, and spur economic development.

Note: Below is a list of Mississippi entities and national stakeholders that have endorsed the “Innovation in Surface Transportation Act of 2014:”

• City of Hattiesburg

• Town of Sumrall

• City of Laurel

• City of Wiggins

• Town of Flora

• City of Pascagoula

• City of Corinth

• City of Greenwood

• City of McComb

• City of Morton

• City of Carthage

• City of Morton

• Mississippi Municipal League

• City of Meridian

• Hinds County Board of Supervisors

• Safe Routes to Schools National Partnership

• League of American Bicyclists

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