On December 31, 2020, Jim Burnley, Ariel Wolf, and Fred Wagner were quoted in Transportation Today on what changes to expect under President-elect Joe Biden’s administration, including increased spending directed at improving U.S. infrastructure and a rethinking of transportation policies.
Burnley said that it could take some time for the Biden administration’s executive team to get in place. Citing past administrations, Burnley said it could be late in the year before some executive-level staffers are confirmed by the Senate. First on the agenda, he said, would likely be the Highway Trust Fund reauthorization bill and infrastructure needs.
Burnley noted that Biden’s plan – Build Back Better – would outlay $2 trillion over the next four years to address infrastructure needs. In addition, the Moving Forward Act, H.R. 2, which was approved by the U.S. House in July, would rebuild American infrastructure by providing $1.5 trillion for investments in roads, bridges, and transit, along with funds for broadband access, energy, wastewater, housing, innovation, and healthcare.
Wolf raised a question regarding technology and innovation and whether the Biden administration would continue with the Trump administration’s policies of stepping out of the way and letting tech companies move ahead with their developments, or whether it would be more proactive in developing safety standards for technology innovations like autonomous cars and unmanned aircraft systems.
Wagner noted that just about all of the incoming administration’s transportation policies would be touched by civil rights and equity discussions. The idea of “mobility as a right” will impact planning and development, environmental justice, and other areas of transportation policy, he said.
“Mobility as a right means that we need to think about what solutions are there for folks who can’t afford cars, but who still need access to jobs, still need access to services … still need access to medical care,” Wagner said. He anticipated that funding mechanisms would have an emphasis on those types of issues and that transportation projects would be weighed against the scale of how to promote the welfare of disadvantaged communities.
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