How to fix the (upcoming) federal transportation bill

StreetsBlog has an extended interview with Congress for New Urbanism President John Norquist about ideas for fixing federal transportation spending so that does more than just create higher motor vehicle throughput:
The news coming out of Washington last week jacked up expectations for national transportation policy to new heights. Cabinet members Ray LaHood and Shaun Donovan announced a partnership to connect transportation and housing policy, branded as the "Sustainable Communities Initiative." The second-in-command at DOT, Vice Admiral Thomas Barrett, told a New York audience that "building communities" is a top priority at his agency.

At the moment, however, the scene on the ground shows how far we have to go before the reality catches up to the rhetoric: State DOTs flush with federal stimulus cash are plowing ahead with wasteful, sprawl-inducing highway projects. Ultimately, you can't end car dependence or create livable places without enlisting the very people building those roads -- the metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), state DOTs, and other entities that shape local policy. How can the feds affect their decisions?

The Congress for the New Urbanism has some intriguing answers. During the stimulus debate, CNU proposed a new type of federal road funding that would help to build connected grids -- the kind of streets that livable communities are made of. The proposal didn't make it into the stimulus package before the bill got rushed out the door, but the upcoming federal transportation bill will provide another chance. CNU President John Norquist -- a four-term mayor of Milwaukee who first got into politics as an anti-freeway advocate -- was down in DC last Thursday to share his ideas with Congress.
Read the interview with Norquist here (Part 1) and here (Part 2).

One interesting quote from Part 2:
You can of course defeat congestion. Environmentalists sometimes say that you can’t build your way out of congestion; that’s not true. It’s been done in Detroit, they built their way out of congestion. They built all these freeways all over Detroit and congestion is now probably their lowest priority problem. They have a lot of other problems, like they lost more than half their population, most of the jobs, the real estate values collapsed. They tore down all the streetcars by 1956 and built these freeways all over the city. So it does work, if the only priority you have is reducing congestion, you can do it by building these giant roads across cities. But then it’ll hurt the city in every other way and they hurt the national economy too, because your cities are what really drive value.