Congress reconvenes Monday after a two week recess. And one of the key issues on the agenda is the transportation bill. House Representatives are reluctant to pass the Senate transportation bill because they say its funding is too generous.
But a provision in the Senate bill also affects local metropolitan planning organizations. The bill would virtually eliminate MPOs in metro areas with populations under 200,000. The House version also limits the power of MPOs. That bill would allow the governor of a state to override MPOs if federal transportation plans do not match the goals of city and county level groups.
Indiana’s 8th district Congressman Larry Bucshon helped fashion the language of the House bill. He says the Senate bill goes too far but MPOs should not stand in the way of transportation projects.
“MPOs should continue to have local input on road projects, but when you talk about multistate and multicounty like an interstate highway, I think they should not be able to unilaterally stop it from happening,” Bucshon says.
Monroe County MPO member Mark Stoops says Bucshon’s bill degrades the value of local input into state and federal transportation projects.
“Really what he’s done is shown he’s more interested in the status quo as far as transportation funding as basically pork barrel giveaways,” he says.
But Stoops says he is not too worried about either of the bills getting passed with their current wording. The House passed a 90-day stop-gap measure to extend transportation funding so Congress had until the end of June to some to a solution.