Transportation Enhancements: A Waste of Taxpayer Dollars

Brian Darling /

The House passed today H.R. 2887, a bill to reauthorize expiring aviation and surface transportation programs for a few months.

Senator Tom Coburn (R–OK) is expected to hold up the bill in the Senate because of something called Transportation Enhancements (TE) included in the legislation. TE is a program run by the Department of Transportation to force states to build bike paths, “highway beautification,” and transportation museums.

In the past, federal funds have been used by states to build animal highways for salamanders, frogs, and turtles. And liberals say there is little waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal government. In defense of the states, they are forced—as a condition of receiving money to build and repair actual highways for people—to spend about 10 percent of all federally received funds on such silly enhancement projects.

Coburn is expected to offer legislation that would allow states to op out of the TE mandates that cost the taxpayer $928 million in fiscal year 2011. Coburn has documented some egregious examples of TE waste from past years:

The Department of Transportation forces states to divert money from highway projects to build bike paths, welcome centers, and archaeological planning. The 12 categories of projects include:

If you see some beautiful plants while driving on your local highway, please make sure to enjoy the view, because you probably paid for those plants. Clearly, the TE program should be eliminated as a means to cut into the estimated $14.5 trillion in accumulated debt of our nation. At a minimum, politicians in Washington should cut programs for salamanders, frogs, and turtles to prove that they are capable of cutting wasteful government spending.