One could say that transportation faces multiple hurdles in the coming year, in the guise of new regulations and legislation that promise to have a serious impact on all modes. Me? I prefer to think of it as a minefield.
The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, but given the state of the economy and other recent events, it's hard to feel positive about much of anything right now - least of all the outlook for transportation policy reform. So why is Joshua Schank, president and chief executive officer of the Eno Center for Transportation, "more optimistic than I have been in a long time" about the prospects for funding critical infrastructure improvements?
The whole "fiscal cliff" mess, even if averted for the moment, promises to have a huge, long-term impact on nearly every aspect of American life. Transportation, as it so often does, will likely take its place far down the list of lawmakers' priorities. At least until crumbling highways, collapsed bridges and inadequate roads bring key portions of the national infrastructure to a standstill.
Give Congress credit for finally coming to agreement on a new surface transportation bill, after months of acrimonious debate and nine extensions of the old funding law, known as SAFETY-LU. The fact that the Senate and House of Representatives could agree on anything at all is, I suppose, reason to applaud, especially given the toxic atmosphere that chokes the political scene today. And this new measure is something more than a "kick-the-can-down-the-road" effort, given that it maintains current highway funding levels until September 2014.