May 16, 2005

Transportation Bill Boosts Funds for Wyden "Smart Growth" Measure

Senator authored vital land use provision in 1998 TEA-21 law

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) announced today that the Federal highway bill expected to pass in the Senate tomorrow contains a major funding boost for the "smart growth" provision he authored in the 1998 TEA-21 transportation law. In that original legislation, Wyden's Transportation and Community and System Preservation (TCSP) Program initiative provided $25 million per year to promote innovative transportation planning and to fund projects that keep communities' healthy growth from becoming destructive urban sprawl. The Senate's 2005 legislation nearly doubles that funding, to $47 million per year.

Oregon has long been a national leader in "smart" land use planning, and has received nearly $4 million from the Wyden program since its inception. In remarks today, Wyden called for more initiatives to promote smart growth of communities. The text of his statement for the Congressional Record follows here:


"I am very pleased to report that the Senate transportation bill not only continues but also greatly expands a program I authored in the TEA-21 law to promote smart growth initiatives. When TEA-21 became law in 1998, this pilot program was the first Federal program ever created to provide incentives to help states and local governments pursue smart growth policies.

"The good news is that the Senate transportation bill recognizes the value of this groundbreaking program by providing a substantial funding increase.

"The original smart growth pilot program I authored - the Transportation and Community and System Preservation Program (TCSP) -- provided $25 million per year to investigate and address the relationships between transportation projects, communities and the environment. Under the SAFETEA bill now before the Senate, funding for this program would nearly double to about $47 million per year.

"The not-so-good news is that seven years after Congress enacted the TCSP program it remains the only Federal program to provide incentives for smart growth. In the last seven years, the problems of urban sprawl have only gotten worse. Clearly more needs to be done.

"Sprawl development not only hurts our citizens where they live and breathe, it also hits them in their wallets. A number of studies have come out that show the costs of sprawling growth are significantly higher than more compact, managed growth patterns. These studies show that taxpayers can save billions of dollars in public facility construction and operation and maintenance costs by opting for growth management.

"Because of the major impacts Federally-funded transportation projects can have, there is an appropriate role for the Federal government in ensuring these projects and the development they spawn are both economically and environmentally sound.

"That role should not be to embroil the Federal government in land use decisions that have historically been State and local issues. We don't want Federal zoning.

"Instead, the proper role for the Federal government is to create incentives to encourage and build on the State and local efforts to address transportation and growth that are already underway. I am very pleased that the Senate SAFETEA bill extends and expands the TCSP program to help local communities grow in environmentally sustainable ways by creating incentives for smart growth management.

"The additional funding for TCSP in the Senate transportation bill is a good start. But if we're going to improve both our nation's infrastructure and our quality of life, we need to do more at the Federal level to provide incentives to support smart growth policies.

"My home State of Oregon leads the nation in developing innovative approaches to manage our growth and to tie transportation policies in to growth management. Our statewide land conservation and development program requires each municipality to establish an urban growth boundary to define both the areas where growth and development should occur and those areas that should be protected from development. This system keeps agricultural and forest lands in productive use and preserves ‘green corridors' for hiking, biking and other recreational uses that are located in or close to urban areas. Our transportation planning and construction efforts reinforce these policies by not only avoiding developing in environmentally sensitive areas but also by helping make the areas where we want development to occur more accessible.

"Oregon recognizes that it's not enough to tell people where they can't build. For our system to work, we have to make it easier to develop the areas where we want growth to occur. And we don't just give lip service to this principle. We actually put our money where our mouth is to make sure the development we want occurs.

"These policies make the State of Oregon, METRO, the City of Portland, and other localities in our State ideal candidates to apply for funding under the Transportation and Community and System Preservation Program.

"I greatly appreciate the support of Chairman Inhofe, Chairman Bond and Senators Jeffords and Baucus in working with me to increase funding substantially for this important program in the bill. Thanks to their efforts the bill now before the Senate will enable state and local smart growth policies to merge more smoothly with our transportation policies.

"As Congress considers other Federal infrastructure programs, I will be looking for ways to build on the success of TCSP. The TCSP model can also be adapted for water, sewer and other Federally-funded infrastructure to help save taxpayers money and support state and local governments' smart growth efforts. By following that approach, Congress can provide our citizens with both better infrastructure and better quality of life."