Blueprint of House Transportation Bill

Update on House Transportation Bill and Safe Routes to School
June 19, 2009

Over the past few days, there has been a lot of movement on the transportation bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. On Thursday, June 18, Reps. Oberstar, Mica, DeFazio, and Duncan, who are the lead Democrats and Republicans on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, released a Blueprint of the transportation bill.

The day before the Blueprint was unveiled, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood asked Congress to delay consideration of the transportation bill and to instead pass an 18-month extension of the current law. Chairman Oberstar and Ranking Member Mica were very firm in the need to move the transportation bill this year, and indicated that they plan to move forward with consideration of the transportation bill next week.

While we do not yet have the text of the legislation, which is expected to be released early next week, the Blueprint provides an overview of the high-level changes the Committee will be looking to carry out.

Of primary interest to Safe Routes to School supporters, the Blueprint indicates that the transportation bill will create an Office of Livability within the Federal Highway Administration. The office will administer bicycle and pedestrian programs, including Safe Routes to School and Transportation Enhancements. The office is charged with increasing modal choice, advancing livable communities, and promoting integrated land use and planning. Also under the Office’s jurisdiction will be compilation and dissemination of best practices on active transportation, developing better data collection and analysis on active transportation, and requiring that all federal aid projects consider comprehensive street design principles, policies, and standards. The Office will also oversee the creation of the U.S. Bicycle Route System.

While the details of any proposed changes to strengthen or expand Safe Routes to School will not be known until the legislative language is released, Safe Routes to School supporters should be pleased to see that the program is included in the Blueprint and is being placed with a new office that is charged with overseeing many other bicycle/pedestrian programs.

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership will analyze the language of the legislative text as soon as it is released to assess which elements of our recommendations are included, and will provide you with additional information as the details emerge. We may have a “call to action” for Safe Routes to School supporters next week, so please watch your email over the coming days.

Thank you for your continued support and interest in Safe Routes to School. For questions, please contact Margo Pedroso at