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Making Federal Funding Work for Cities

Read NACTO and T4A’s proposals (pdf).

Give cities the authority to build responsive, impactful, and multimodal projects.

Safe, convenient, and reliable transportation is the bedrock of a functioning city. Despite this, cities are not in control of their own transportation funding, and decisions that affect their residents are made outside of local hands.

Under our current system, most transportation funding, allocated by Congress, goes from USDOT to state DOTs and metropolitan planning organizations. Money is then re-allocated to cities.

However, despite the fact that most Americans live in cities or urbanized areas, cities have little control over transportation funding. Instead, state DOTs control the overwhelming majority of funding, and have a long history of prioritizing highways over safe streets and public transit. Compounding matters, cities typically lack jurisdiction or even design review over state-led projects or projects on state-owned roads, even when those roads are located within city limits.

The outmoded funding pathway between Federal and local governments is an obstacle to substantively addressing the climate, economic recovery, equity, and safety challenges of the present day. It’s time to update federal policy to ensure that transportation funding supports national goals by empowering cities to build the safety and sustainability projects that the people want.

Congress must enact policy which responds to four unique but interrelated needs of cities:

  • Authority to direct funding to their priorities.
  • Authority to approve or prevent project designs and construction of projects in their jurisdiction.
  • Access to the same accelerated project delivery processes as states.
  • A mechanism to participate in decisions about projects located outside their jurisdiction but that impact them.

For more, read NACTO and Transportation for America’s proposals to ensure federal transportation funding meets local needs (pdf) >>


Webinar: Making Federal Funding Work for Cities (May 26, 2021)

NACTO’s State and Federal Policy Program >