MPC strongly supports growing movement toward goal-driven, coordinated federal transportation investment policy - Metropolitan Planning Council

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MPC strongly supports growing movement toward goal-driven, coordinated federal transportation investment policy

(Chicago) … The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) strongly supports a report released today in Washington, D.C., by the National Transportation Policy Project (NTPP), a project of the Bipartisan Policy Center, which introduced ideas to change how we invest in the nation’s public transportation systems and roadways.

NTTP’s report, “Performance Driven: A New Vision for U.S. Transportation Policy,” presents the findings of a two-year effort to develop consensus toward a “forward-looking American transportation policy.” The report offers specific recommendations for reshaping U.S. transportation policy to be more performance-driven, with a clearly defined set of goals and greater accountability. The group issued its recommendations to Congress and the Obama administration at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, D.C. 

MPC believes the report, along with U.S. Rep. James Oberstar’s (D-Minn.) anticipated announcement on the next federal surface transportation bill, are signs that the time is now to address broken federal investment policies.  

“NTTP’s report, and the much-anticipated surface transportation bill, signal that momentum is building to revamp outdated policies and entrenched structures that have led to federal mis-investment in communities across metropolitan Chicago and the U.S.,” said MPC President MarySue Barrett. “The National Transportation Policy Project’s report is another signpost for the direction federal investment should be taking: away from investing in silos via arbitrary funding formulas, and toward supporting programs and infrastructure that solve interconnected issues and are planned at the scale of the problems they intend to address.” 

Last Friday, at the first event in a summer-long luncheon series “Reinventing Public Investment,” hosted in partnership with the Chicago Architecture Foundation, MPC released its draft framework for federal investment reform. The report begins to make the case for goal-driven, right-sized, coordinated investment across all federal agencies, not just U.S. DOT.  

MPC’s report highlights five local case studies developed by nonprofit, community, civic, government and foundation leaders, whose creative approaches to meeting local housing, transportation, environmental, and economic development goals are succeeding despite the inertia of traditional investment mechanisms. 

“Communities and local agencies are pursuing these creative strategies because they cannot afford not to, but they are getting very little assistance or rewards for doing so,” said Barrett. “Some have developed out of necessity, as Band-aids to fix problems that would not have existed if federal resources supported comprehensive community planning and priorities. Others are the product of resourceful communities looking to make the most of limited funds.”  

MPC is collecting more examples of locally proven models that can inform a new framework for federal investment, one that rewards innovation and collaboration, and directs resources where they will have the greatest benefit – not based on politically contrived formulas, but measured against objective, quantifiable priorities and project selection criteria. 

MPC is encouraged that the Obama administration already has demonstrated a desire to learn from local policymakers about their efforts to overcome off-track federal policies, as well as a fundamental understanding of the need for innovation. For instance, the first-ever Office of Urban Policy will coordinate federal investment as exemplified by the recently announced Sustainable Communities initiative of the U.S. Depts. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Transportation (DOT). Likewise, HUD would set aside one percent of its proposed 2010 budget for Transformation Initiatives that include program evaluation and demonstration grants.  

“MPC is fully engaged in this growing nationwide movement to identify what’s broken and build the case for fixing it by strengthening and supporting innovation,” said Barrett. “We look forward to continuing to work with local and national partners to advance our recommendations for reform as near-term opportunities arise, such as federal transportation and energy bills, and programmatic shifts across federal agencies.”  

For a copy of the National Transportation Policy Project’s report, please contact Eileen McMenamin, Director of Communications, Bipartisan Policy Center, at 202-379-1633 or emcmenamin@bipartisanpolicy.org.  

For a copy of MPC's report, "Goal-driven, Right-sized, and Coordinated: Federal Investment Reform for the 21st Century," please visit MPC's Web site or contact Mandy Burrell Booth, Assistant Communications Director, MPC, at 312-863-6018 or mburrell@metroplanning.org

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