Chairman Mica's transportation priorities are wrong

In addition to a strong direct outcry from constituents, the duly elected legislative bodies of Volusia and Putnam counties, plus the cities of Deland, New Smyrna Beach, Holly Hill and Palatka, as well as the Volusia County Transportation Planning Organization have passed resolutions censuring Rep. Mica's proposal. These bodies know better than anyone the transportation needs of the constituents of Florida's 7th District. Yet despite this clear expression of local need for bicycling and walking investment, Mica did not accommodate these concerns in drafting the bill. Further, when Mica held field hearings around the country earlier this year, he encountered concerned Americans across the country pleading for increased investment in active and public transportation to create more balanced transportation choices.

ADVERTISEMENT
Why would a veteran lawmaker with a long track record of supporting all modes of transportation draft a bill so obviously contrary to the demands of his constituents and the American people to achieve this balance? If he's not serving the needs and wishes of the people who elected him, or the elected councils and agencies that govern his district, then what is his motivation? Whom is he aiming to please?

The closed drafting process that left even the ranking member of the committee in the dark about the content and timing of the bill, along with reports that Rep. Mica intends to push his bill to a vote without serious debate or amendment, further add to the sense that the process has nothing to do with fulfilling the will of the people or building political consensus. Rather, Mica's plan abdicates his responsibility to articulate federal transportation priorities by handing a blank check to the states.

This move might please leadership or wealthy donors, but decidedly not the elected officials closest to his constituents. Rep. Mica had given his constituents hope that his rise to chairman meant that his and their long-standing transportation priorities would be advanced. Instead, they are sorely disappointed, and he will have to explain to voters why he changed stripes.

Kevin Mills is the vice president of policy for Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.