Senate Passes Transportation Bill Critical for Colorado Communities with Key Bennet Provision

Will Provide Certainty for Colorado Transportation Projects

Includes Bennet-Backed Changes to Rural Transit Formula and Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development Planning

The U.S. Senate today passed a transportation bill that will provide more certainty for transit projects in Colorado and includes a provision Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet pushed for on behalf of rural communities as well as one he secured to enhance sustainable growth around transit facilities. 

The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act, which Bennet supported, passed with by broad bipartisan vote of 74-22.

“Colorado municipalities big and small, rural and urban, depend on reliable roads and transit systems to grow and thrive,” Bennet said. “This bill, which includes an improved rural transit formula, will give communities across the state the certainty they need to move ahead with their plans that meet their needs.  Smart, longer-term planning and development will help ease traffic while connecting Coloradans to good schools, good jobs and one another.”

The bill is the longest extension since the previous surface transportation bill expired at the end of 2009.

One Bennet provision in the bill would modify the rural transit formula program which currently takes into account rural population and land area to determine a state’s rural transit funding level each year. This change to the transit title of the bill, under the jurisdiction of the Banking Committee of which Bennet is a member, allows the number of miles traveled on rural transit trips to also be taken into account. This common sense improvement means Colorado’s share would increase from approximately $7.7 million in FY2011 to an expected $9.1 million under the new formula.

Another measure in the transit title that Bennet secured in the bill authorizes $20 million per year for FY12 and FY13 to award competitive grants for transit-oriented development planning purposes around new transit facilities or ones where capacity improvements are being made. The program will help communities work closely with private investors to plan for the infrastructure needs that will promote mixed-use economic development around transit facilities. The provision, based on a bill Bennet introduced with  Senator Mark Warner of Virginia in February, addresses the demand for housing near transit in walkable, mixed-use communities, which is projected to double over the next 20 years, to 15.2 million households by 2030. It has the support of Transportation for America, Reconnecting America, Smart Growth America as well as numerous localities, local transit providers and advocacy groups.