AASHTO Journal, 20 June 2014
In an effort to build support for agreeing to a long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill to succeed MAP-21, two House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee members recently introduced President Obama’s four-year, $302 billion transportation proposal.
House T&I Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chair Tom Petri (R-WI) and Ranking Member Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) introduced the President’s Grow America Act last week by request. House and Senate rules allow Members of Congress to introduce legislation at the request of the Administration without necessarily pledging support for the legislation. In a statement, Holmes Norton said “this bill is an important first step in our efforts to craft a bill to move our nation into the 21st century.”
Unveiled by the President and the U.S. Department of Transportation earlier this year (see related AASHTO Journal story here), the bill would allocate $199 billion for highways and road safety, and increase highway funding by about 22 percent over fiscal year 2014 enacted levels. The plan also calls for more than $72 billion for the Federal Transit Administration (an increase of 69 percent over the FY 2014 level), $5 billion for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants (up 108 percent from the FY 2014 level), $3 billion for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (up 32 percent from the FY 2014 level), about $3.7 billion for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (up 12 percent from FY 2014), and $19 billion for the Federal Railroad Administration (an increase of 243 percent, due to $9.5 billion set aside for a new Rail Service Improvement Program, which received no funding in FY 2014).
According to USDOT, the bill also aims to cut project delivery timelines without compromising the environment, emphasizes safety across all transportation modes, and creates “incentives to better align planning and investment decisions to comprehensively address regional economic needs while strengthening local decision-making.”
Holmes Norton said the bill should serve as another stepping stone to getting a transportation reauthorization measure passed through Congress.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee also earlier this year released its own MAP-21 reauthorization measure, which stands as a $265 billion, six-year bill (see related AASHTO Journal story here). House T&I Chair Bill Shuster (R-PA) is expected to introduce his own transportation reauthorization proposal this summer.