On July 29, The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unveiled America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA), which authorizes $287 billion in funding from the Highway Trust Fund for the nation’s surface transportation programs over the next five years.
According to the committee, it is the largest amount of funding provided for highway reauthorization legislation in history.
The legislation includes provisions to improve road safety, accelerate project delivery, improve resiliency to disasters, reduce highway emissions, and grow the economy.
Reaction to the bill was positive. The National Association of Counties Executive Director Matthew Chase issued the following statement:
“Counties own and operate the largest share of the nation’s roads and 40 percent of all public bridges. As key stakeholders in maintaining transportation infrastructure, we are encouraged by the movement of the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act by the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
“This legislation would help us serve our residents in a number of ways, including maintaining off-system bridges, streamlining unnecessarily burdensome federal regulations and creating new grant programs for bridges, safety and resilience.
The bill provides new grants for bridges. It authorizes over $6 billion over five years, including $3.3 billion from the Highway Trust Fund, to address the backlog of bridges in poor condition nationwide. “Every state with a well-justified proposal will receive funding to improve the condition and safety of its aging bridges,” the committee said.
This part of the bill was of particular interest to the National Stone, Sand and Gravel associations. Their CEO Michael W. Johnson issued the following statement:
“We strongly support the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act released today by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Aggregates producers not only stand ready to build and rebuild America’s infrastructure, we also rely on a dependable, efficient transportation system in our daily lives.
“The ATIA will provide much-needed funding to maintain and repair America’s roads and bridges. This is a positive step in addressing necessary infrastructure investment. Our nation’s roads, bridges, highways and the many other aspects of our infrastructure are in need of repair, improvement and advancement to meet the needs of today and tomorrow. Bold steps such as today’s bill are critical to address infrastructure investment across the board for America’s economic future.
The bill also increases funding to the existing Highway Safety Improvement Program. It includes a new safety funding supplemental of $500 million per year distributed to states based on their current formula share to support projects that would lower driver and pedestrian fatalities. States can receive greater project flexibility if they meet certain safety planning requirements. In addition, states can compete for additional funding awards by making progress on reducing fatalities.
And the committee highlighted the bill’s ability to cut red tape. It does this by codifying the core elements of the “One Federal Decision” policy for highway projects including establishing: a 2-year goal for completion of environmental reviews; a 90-day timeline for related project authorizations; a single environmental document and record of decision to be signed by all participating agencies; and an accountability and tracking system managed by the Secretary of Transportation (Secretary).