You know the debate over the next highway bill is getting serious when AARP chimes in. It just goes to show that transportation affects everyone — and every stage of life.
The organization for over-50s sent its recommendations for the surface transportation bill to Rep. James L. Oberstar, D-Minn., and Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., as they ready a bill for consideration by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
"We believe this legislation presents an historic opportunity to promote a balanced transportation network that provides safe transportation options for Americans of all ages," said David Sloane, AARP's senior vice president of government relations and advocacy.
He noted transportation is "inextricably linked to the health and economic security" of older persons and urged Oberstar and Mica to pay attention to some specific areas:
* Ensuring that all users of the transportation system, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users, older persons, and persons with disabilities, can travel safely and conveniently on and across federally funded streets and highways.
* Providing $500 million per year for states to implement Federal Highway Administration highway design guidelines for older drivers and pedestrians to improve roads at the most dangerous intersections and road segments.
* Preserving and expanding specialized transportation services for older adults and persons with disabilities.
The lobbying group — which boasts 40 million members — also wants Congress to increase funding for the National Center on Senior Transportation to $5 million per year, and wants DOT to hire a special assistant to the transportation secretary to coordinate DOT activities and programs related to older adult transportation.
"In the next two decades, the fastest growing age segment will be persons age 85 and older, reaching approximately 6.5 million by the year 2020," Sloane said. "This has profound implications for the planning, design, and operation of our roads, transit systems, and pedestrian and bicycle facilities."