Sign up to receive email updates
Bipartisan Capps Provisions Included in Transportation Bill
Measures will Improve Evacuation Route and Keep Transportation Decisions at Local Level
WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA-23) announced that at her urging two bipartisan policy provisions were included in legislation to reauthorize federal transportation programs that will be considered by the House of Representatives this week.
The first provision, which she and Congressman Darrell Issa (CA-49) championed, directs State Departments of Transportation, such as Caltrans, to give consideration to the condition and effectiveness of local evacuation routes when dispersing federal transportation funds. States do not currently consider the reliability or effectiveness of evacuation routes when prioritizing how to use federal dollars spent on the improvements of highways and bridges. Last year, Capps and Issa sent a letter to the Congressman John Mica, Chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure as he was writing the initial draft of the transportation bill, urging him to include the provision in the legislation.
Evacuation routes are a lifeline during wildfires, earthquakes, and other natural and manmade disasters and here on the Central Coast we know how often disaster strikes. Unfortunately, too often these routes do not receive an adequate level of investment. This policy provision will ensure we can upgrade the Highway 101 transportation corridor and increase safety for all Central Coast residents during times of crisis and emergency,” said Capps.
Capps also worked to include a bipartisan provision in the transportation legislation to preserve support for existing small Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), such as the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG) or the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG). MPOs are responsible for carrying out federally required transportation planning activities. Last month, Capps and Congressman Don Young (R-AK) wrote to Chairman Mica requesting he include a clause in his bill that would keep small MPOs in operation should the bill make other changes to the designation of MPOs, which it does.
Ensuring that our transportation decisions are guided primarily by people in our community, not state or federal officials, is critically important. SLOCOG and SBCAG, and the local officials who serve on their boards, enable a greater level of involvement of local citizens as we work through the short and long-term transportation needs of our community. We have to keep intact the collaborative approach to planning at the local and regional levels that has helped us build creative solutions to our transportation challenges in our communities. It’s a real win that the Committee included this commonsense, bipartisan provision in its bill,” said Capps.
Ronald De Carli, SLOCOG Executive Director, stated “Congresswoman Capps’ provision to protect small MPOs, such as SLOCOG, will retain the local decision-making authority in the transportation planning and programming process and maintain the voice of local government and its citizens. The best decisions affecting local and regional planning and programming are those made by local elected officials, who are accountable to the electorate, know their region, and have cooperatively developed regional vision plans through a comprehensive public participation process. This is particularly important for California, as MPOs are also responsible for preparing plans to reduce congestion, greenhouse gases, and develop more sustainable communities.”
Jim Kemp, SBCAG Executive Director, added, “We certainly thank Congresswoman Capps for her work on this issue since she led the effort to get this language into the bill. MPO’s ensure that the transportation planning process takes into account all possible strategies for addressing needs and that a broad spectrum of community input is considered including local citizens, businesses and state transportation officials. Preserving MPOs, including those representing smaller urbanized areas, is critical to continuing an effective regional transportation planning process which makes wise use of limited transportation funding and reflects both local and national mobility needs.”
Capps also filed two transportation-related amendments to the bill that will be debated on the floor this week. The first amendment would restore dedicated funding for local “off-system” bridges that are found on public roads and often are owned and operated by local governments. Without a dedicated funding stream, “off-system” bridge maintenance, repair, and rehabilitation projects critical to the safety of the public will have to compete against all other needs, including system expansion, leaving local governments solely responsible to fund improvements. The second amendment would strike a provision in the transportation bill would override MPOs authority on certain transportation projects. Both amendments are supported by SLOCOG and SBCAG.