Instead of being forced to the sidelines, local officials deserve to have a direct role in developing solutions for the transportation needs in their communities. It stands to reason that the leaders of America’s cities, towns, and suburbs would be better decision-makers than federal bureaucrats who dole out funding formulas for transportation projects.
As the Senate debates MAP-21, I intend to join Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in offering legislation that would give local officials more control over the transportation planning process. Specifically, our bipartisan measure would allow states to allocate federal funds on a competitive basis. Local jurisdictions, metropolitan planning organizations, transit providers, and others could develop projects for consideration. A panel of local stakeholders would then decide which projects to approve based on how the project could improve the transportation system, promote innovation, and spur economic development.
These competitions promise to foster the most targeted and cost-effective solutions to meet unique and urgent infrastructure needs. At a time when budget restraint is a necessity, they would help ensure taxpayer dollars are used wisely and efficiently.