TEA-21 REAUTHORIZATION RESOLUTION:

RAIL ISSUES

WHEREAS, America is confronting a myriad of challenges facing our transportation system; and

WHEREAS, demand for transportation services is increasing, and it is critical that we develop a strategy for new investments in our nation's physical infrastructure; and

WHEREAS, many areas in our country are experiencing congested roadways and railways, severe overcrowding of public transportation vehicles, and gridlock at airports; and

WHEREAS, adding to the capacity of our roadways, public transportation infrastructure, airports, railroads, and port facilities will be critical to our ability to sustain strong economic growth in future years; and

WHEREAS, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) has been successful in encouraging more efficient investment of federal transportation dollars, and in providing for greater transportation funding flexibility for meeting the diverse needs of states and localities; and

WHEREAS, TEA-21 also has strengthened the partnership among federal, state and local governments, and encouraged the development of multi-modal transportation systems; and

WHEREAS, TEA-21 has yielded unprecedented levels of funding for highways and transit by guaranteeing that transportation revenues actually are spent on transportation needs; and

WHEREAS, despite the successes of TEA-21, the current level of federal investment has not kept up with the steadily growing demand for transportation and for improved maintenance of existing transportation infrastructure; and

WHEREAS, the basic programmatic framework of TEA-21, which consists of a core highway program, a core transit program, and flexible funding programs designed to allow localities to determine the transportation capital improvements that best meet their needs, should be preserved, though some minor changes to certain specific elements of TEA-21 may need to be considered; and

WHEREAS, the broadest definition possible of what constitutes "local match" for New Starts projects should be established and should include taking into consideration projects built locally without any New Starts dollars that are part of an integrated system; and

WHEREAS, while the existing transit matching shares should be maintained, those local communities that step forward with significant local and non-federal resources for their New Starts projects should be rewarded, in some manner, through the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) evaluation process for New Starts projects; and

WHEREAS, FTA's New Starts evaluation process should provide recognition for communities that make a significant commitment to transit-oriented development and that practice smart-growth land-use planning principles; and

WHEREAS, Congress should consider reforms to the New Starts Program to ensure that appropriations are consistent with a project's funding plan contained in its Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) in order to avoid situations in which a project sponsor has to incur debt to cover federal funding shortfalls and has to seek appropriations after the project is completed and in revenue service; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that The U.S. Conference of Mayors calls upon Congress and the Administration to provide long-term, sustained investment in the nation's transportation infrastructure that is adequate to meet the significant needs through the reauthorization of TEA-21,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Conference calls upon Congress and the Administration to retain the existing, needs-based transit program structure, and refrain from imposing a state cap on federal transit funding allocations or providing for a state-by-state minimum allocation for transit should be resisted; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Conference urges Congress and the Administration to establish the highest possible guaranteed spending levels for the federal transit title as a whole, as well for individual programs within the transit title, including for the Section 5307 Urbanized Area (UZA) Formula Program; the Section 5309 News Starts, Fixed Guideway Modernization and Bus/Bus Facilities Programs; and the Jobs Access/Reverse Commute Program; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Conference urges Congress and the Administration to give consideration to improving certain aspects of the New Starts Program, particularly relating to local initiatives designed to enhance the effectiveness of their projects