Friday, March 05, 2010

Two rural senators say transportation budget is too focused on urban areas

Senators voiced bipartisan concern Thursday that the Obama administration's budget request for the Department of Transportation focuses too heavily on urban areas. Republican John Thune of South Dakota and Democrat Mark Begich of Alaska said "they feared the competitive application processes would not set an equal playing field" for rural areas, Josh Voorhees of Environment & Energy Daily reports. Begich suggested DOT have rural projects compete against each other for a portion of the cash, ensuring that they had a fair chance to win funding.

"I don't want to call it a carve-out because I want to make sure that it's a fair system that is competitive," Begich said at yesterday's Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing. "But if it's Kotzebue competing against Los Angeles, we lose." Thune, the top Republican on the panel's subcommittee in charge of surface transportation, "previously called the White House's efforts to boost transit options as part of its livability effort unrealistic for rural states like his own," Voorhees reports.

"It's clear that livability really applies to rural areas as much as it does anywhere else," John Porcari, DOT's deputy secretary, said in an attempt to soothe some of the senators' concerns. Porcari added one of the initiative's goals was a return "to the quality of life that many of us enjoy in small towns." (Read more, subscription required)

No comments: