Boom Times for the Transportation Lobby

The Center for Public Integrity has a new report out about the massive transportation lobby seeking federal funding. Some of their findings:

  • As lawmakers grappled with renewal of an expiring multi-year transportation law last September, the number of cities and counties lobbying on transportation had grown by 80 percent since the last time a transport bill was about to expire, in the fall of 2003.
  • The cities and counties who list transportation as among their priorities spent a total of more than $35 million lobbying Washington through the first three quarters of last year; if even a quarter of that spending was solely devoted to transportation, it totals more than $8 million, a hefty sum for cash-strapped local governments.
  • Data from the third quarter of 2009 shows that, on top of the 650 cities and counties, those contracting with lobbyists include more than a dozen states, 90 mass transit agencies, 45 local development authorities, and 25 metropolitan and regional planning organizations.

There is a lot of federal money to chase:

  • Last December, Congress passed its appropriations spending for 2010, including more than $52 billion for highways and transit.
  • The "stimulus" included $35 billion for highway and transit programs.
  • A second so-called "stimulus" passed by the House late last year includes another $35 billion for transportation spending.
  • And, Congress is still to consider a multi-year re-authorization of the regular federal transportation legislation.