U.S. House Introduces Transportation Bill

Last week, the United States House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee introduced a bi-partisan, six-year $325 billion surface transportation authorization entitled The Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015, according to Reuters.

Objectives of this legislation are to improve U.S. surface infrastructure, push innovation for projects by promoting private investment, and maximize use of new technology and congestion management tools while maintaining a strong commitment to safety.  The bill would give more autonomy to states and local governments for transportation projects.

The bill would authorize $261 billion for highway construction, $55 billion for public transit and $9 billion or so for highway safety programs.In addition, the proposal  is comprised of particular components related to freight transportation and  supply chains, including:
-Facilitating commerce and the movement of goods by modifying the National Highway Freight Network, with total mileage to increase from 27,000 to 41,000;
-Refocusing existing funding to create a Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects program at $4.5 billion for fiscal years 2016-2021 for large-scale projects of national or regional importance;
-Dedicate funding specifically for freight projects and establish a competitive grant process to ensure the best projects are awarded funding; and
-Provide a focus on the National Highway System and the nation’s freight needs.

The bill was introduced by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO), and Highways and Transit Subcommittee Ranking Member Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). “This is a bill that improves our roads, bridges, and transportation system, as well as our economy, our competitiveness, and our everyday lives,” Shuster said. “The legislation streamlines, consolidates, and reforms transportation programs and offices, gives states and local governments more control in addressing their needs, refocuses on national transportation priorities, facilitates the flow of freight and commerce, and promotes innovation as we improve our infrastructure for the future. The more efficient our surface transportation system is, the less time we spend in traffic, the lower the transportation costs for goods and services, and the more jobs that are created throughout the economy.”

Some other key components of the bill include consolidating truck and bus safety grant programs and provide states with the flexibility to focus funding on safety priorities, providing a competitive grant option to address truck and bus facility needs, and accelerate the introduction of new technologies like electronic logging devices.

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