Rep. Torres bill emphasizes equity in transportation investments

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A bill introduced into Congress on Tuesday by U.S. Rep. Norma J. Torres (D-CA), co-chair of the New Democrat Coalition Infrastructure Taskforce, would ensure Department of Transportation funding is dispersed equitably by federal, state, and local entities.

Called the Fair Transportation Act of 2021, the bill would reinstate the DOT Transportation Equity Research Program, which researches equity in transportation; require the Government Accountability Office to review whether the DOT considers the needs of economically disadvantaged and underserved populations when distributing discretionary federal funds; require the GAO to review whether or not state DOT’s implement best practices to ensure equitable distribution of federal funds for transportation projects, and mandate that the DOT produce guidance on equity consideration metrics while disbursing federal funds.

“Federal transportation projects can help a community move out of poverty, but a lack of these investments can lock them into it,” Rep. Norma Torres said. “Federal, state, and local entities have a responsibility to ensure equity in how they distribute these resources, and the bill I’m introducing today will help them do it. From renewed funding for research to thorough reviews of current efforts to investments to promote best practices across all levels of government, the Fair Transportation Act can even the playing field for economically disadvantaged communities that are all-too-often ignored by federal investments. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me in supporting it.”