Rep. Woodall talks up transportation funding bill
The $339 billion federal transportation funding bill passed on Capitol Hill last week includes provisions that could help restore voters’ trust in Congress, U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall said Monday.
The legislation, which cleared the House of Representatives 363-64, contains a new block grant program that would put more federal money in the hands of state and local transportation agencies, Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, told an audience of community improvement district officials from across metro Atlanta at a luncheon sponsored by the Council for Quality Growth.
“Maybe Washington doesn’t have all of the solutions,” said Woodall, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “Maybe we can trust folks on the local level to make more of their own decisions. ... The new block grant program is going to allow you to do that.”
Woodall said the bill also moves away from the tradition of funding highway projects by “earmark,” a process that prioritized projects in the congressional districts of the most influential lawmakers. Instead, the legislation emphasizes projects of national significance by putting $4.5 billion toward reducing traffic bottlenecks.
Woodall said that’s good news for motorists who drive on interstates 285 and 75 in Atlanta, two of the most heavily congested highways in the nation.
One thing the House bill doesn’t do is increase the federal gasoline tax, a step advocated by business organizations and transportation agencies across the country.
“I can’t raise gas taxes today because folks don’t believe the gas taxes they paid yesterday are getting them their money’s worth,” Woodall said. “Washington hasn’t proven it can efficient and effective in responding to local needs.”
Woodall is a member of the joint House-Senate conference committee that will work to resolve differences between the House bill and a version of transportation funding the Senate passed earlier this year.
If the conferees succeed, Congress would be poised to enact a multi-year transportation funding measure for the first time in a decade.