Surface Transportation Authorization

Click here to download the PDF.

ISSUE

The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) supports the continued operations of Councils of Government
(COGs), Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), and Rural Planning Organizations (RPOs) in transportation planning and
programming to promote regional solutions that support economic growth, environmental sustainability, and enhanced mobility.

RECOMMENDATIONS

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT must continue its strong and focused role in shaping the nation’s surface transportation programs. Working with local partners, the federal government can help set national transportation goals and priorities and support projects of particular regional and national significance.

LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIALS should be at the forefront of transportation policy, funding, and programs, particularly given their understanding of local needs, opportunities, and obligations.

REGIONAL PLANNING AND PROGRAMMING are the cornerstones of the nation’s surface transportation network and must remain core components of national, state, and local transportation policy. For more than a half-century, regional planning in metropolitan and rural areas – underscored with substantial public input – has been essential in creating a safe and efficient multi-modal transportation system and has advance integration of urban, suburban, and rural interests; efficient goods movement; transportation safety planning; environmental mitigation; and accountability and transparency. Federal policies should encourage regional planning and coordination and provide the direct authority, flexibility, and funding necessary to create an intermodal and multi-modal transportation system that will help regions and communities thrive.

SAFETY AND SECURITY is an area where COGs, MPOs, and RPOs are primary leaders. The inconsistencies surrounding their participation in safety and security planning must be addressed, and federal policies must better incorporate regional planning into disaster planning and critical infrastructure needs.

PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT has been a focus of many MPOs for decades. Federally created measures should reflect this, and ensure that MPOs have a flexible set of metrics that are tied to the regional planning process, designed to incorporate locally defined policies, and reflective of each MPO’s priorities.

FUNDING of transportation must be increased at all levels of government, and the federal funding mechanisms must be addressed to ensure adequate resources into the future. In addition, federal funding should be directly allocated to MPOs of all sizes for planning and programming. Congress should create a broader “Transportation Account” that will collapse all surface funding into one stream – directed to the States, localities, and regions – to allow for development of the best and most flexible local transportation solutions. To adequately fund this account, federal fuel taxes should be increased and indexed in the short term, while new revenue sources are explored to provide sustainable and predictable funding into the future. Finally, redundant and duplicative programs within the transportation program should be eliminated where appropriate.

FINANCING mechanisms are important tools and Congress should continue to explore and integrate innovative approaches. It is essential that COGs, MPOs, and RPOs be allowed to utilize and benefit from new financing mechanisms.

FREIGHT and freight movement require strong federal policies that recognize the excellent position of COGs, MPOs, and RPOs to coordinate freight interests within the regional context of transportation, economic development, and environmental planning. Consistent, dedicated, and firewalled freight funding is required to meet current and future freight needs.

LIVABLE COMMUNITIES place an emphasis on the integration of strategic regional transportation, economic, environmental, land use, and housing planning objectives, breaking down federal funding and regulatory silos, and streamlining processes to encourage cross-cutting, regional efforts. Federal programs should encourage this approach and recognize that local governments are the primary points of contact for these efforts.

DATA, TECHNOLOGY & RESEARCH are areas where the federal government should continue to be an active and innovative leader, particularly as they relate to the needs of local governments and their regional planning organizations.

PROJECT DELIVERY must be expedited to efficiently implement projects and foster the safety, economic, and environmental well-being of communities. This includes eliminating bureaucratic red tape and duplicative or redundant processes.

Click here to download the PDF.

Copyright © 2013 National Association of Regional Councils