Rep. Blumenauer Leads Lawmakers in Demanding Department of Transportation Do Its Job, Release Funds for Transit
September 10, 2018
Washington, DC – Today, Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) led 53 additional members of the U.S. House of Representatives in urging the Department of Transportation (DOT) to fulfill its obligations and immediately administer funding for transit capital projects that have met all requirements but face bureaucratic objections and roadblocks.
In March 2018, Congress passed and Donald Trump agreed to the highest-ever funding for the Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program, a program that funds transit expansions for heavy rail, commuter rail, light rail, streetcars, and bus rapid transit. Since then, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has refused to obligate new funding, leading to cost overruns and project delays across the country. Despite directives to administer the program in accordance with requirements set forth in statute, a May 2018 GAO report found that FTA officials do not plan to fully administer the program because Trump would like to phase out the program.
In a letter to Secretary Elaine Chao, the lawmakers wrote: “[T]he FTA has stalled projects past their anticipated receipt of full funding grant agreements which has contributed to the project delays, cost overruns, and red tape so frequently excoriated by this administration. … Across the country, local taxpayers have already stepped up to support transit projects and are relying on the federal government to be a strong partner, rather than inject uncertainty.”
The full text of the letter is below. Click here for an electronic version.
September 10, 2018
The Honorable Elaine Chao
Secretary of Transportation
United States Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, D.C. 20590
Dear Secretary Chao:
We write to express our concern with the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) delay in obligating appropriated funds for the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) Program and urge you to immediately begin entering into new Full Funding and Small Starts Grant Agreements for projects that have met all requirements. Should these delays continue, we will push for more strict obligating requirements in any Consolidated Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriations bill.
Year after year, Congress has reaffirmed its commitment to transit capital projects – most recently in March 2018 when Congress passed and the President agreed to the highest-ever CIG funding level and directed the Secretary of Transportation to administer the program “in accordance with the procedural and substantive requirements of section 5309 of [Title 49, U.S.C.].” Yet nearly six months later, the FTA has stalled projects past their anticipated receipt of full funding grant agreements which has contributed to the project delays, cost overruns, and red tape so frequently excoriated by this administration.
Throughout its existence, the CIG program has generated regional economic benefits, attracted businesses to project corridors, connected workers to their employers, and relieved freight congestion chokepoints. The benefits of a project also extend well beyond the project corridor. Across the country, local taxpayers have already stepped up to support transit projects and are relying on the federal government to be a strong partner, rather than inject uncertainty.
We urge you fulfill your promises and immediately begin entering into new Full Funding and Small Start Grant Agreements.