With the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act set to expire on September 30, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), released text of the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST in America) Act, a key component of the Moving Forward Framework that House Democrats, released earlier this year. The bill’s original cosponsors are Subcommittee on Highways and Transit Chair Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Chair Dan Lipinski (D-IL).
The five-year reauthorization would provide $494 billion in direct investments for our nation’s highway, transit, and rail systems, while also providing investment in passenger and commercial vehicle safety. In total, $411 billion is provided from the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) for highway, transit, safety, and research programs, a 46% increase from current investment levels. Beyond topline funding levels, the INVEST in America Act includes provisions to improve road and bridge conditions, expand public transit, enhance safety, and provide additional resources to our rail network.
Specifically, the INVEST in America Act takes steps to address COVID-19 response with $83.1 billion in FY 2021 for states and localities to administer transportation programs and continue projects impacted by the pandemic. More long-term, the bill also includes $319 billion for Federal-aid highway programs, $105 billion for transit programs, $60 billion for rail programs, $5.3 billion for highway safety programs, focuses dollars on state of good repair, and sets aside $28 billion for bridge investments over the lifetime of the bill. Additionally, there are provisions to improve Mobility on Demand (MOD) services, study emerging transportation technology systems, and the development of a national Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) pilot program to find future revenue mechanisms for the HTF.
House Democrats also have used the legislation to push climate change priorities. As written, the bill creates a new greenhouse gas emissions performance measure, including $8.35 billion to support carbon pollution reduction and $6.25 billion for a new program to fund resilience and emergency evacuation needs.
ASCE supports many of the provisions included in the legislation, but despite these positive actions, we are concerned that the legislation has not been introduced in a bipartisan manner, making it more difficult to move through Congress before the FAST Act expires on September 30.
ASCE President K.N. Gunalan “Guna” Ph.D., P.E., noted, “The INVEST in America Act is a step forward to bring our nation’s roads, bridges, rail, and transit systems into a state of good repair. We are pleased to see Chairman DeFazio propose a 5-year, $494 billion investment with an emphasis on resilience as we quickly approach the expiration of the current surface transportation authorization, the FAST Act, on September 30. We strongly urge Congress to work together to ensure that a bipartisan bill with appropriate level of funding reach the President by September 30. American families are counting on action to modernize our D+ infrastructure and to improve their quality of life.”
With the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee nearly a year ago passing their portion of the next surface transportation reauthorization bill, we urge the Senate Commerce and Banking Committees continue to draft their portions of the next reauthorization which will include rail, safety, and transit. Furthermore we urge the House Ways and Means as well as Senate Finance Committees to take action and develop a comprehensive surface transportation bill that includes a long-term fix to the HTF before heading to conference, voted out of Congress, and signed into law by the President.
In ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, our nation’s roads, bridges, and transit systems received a “D,” “C+,” and “D- “. In order to raise these subpar grades, we must address our $1.1 trillion funding deficit and find a long-term revenue solution to fix the HTF. As this legislation moves through Congress, contact your Members of Congress and urge them to invest in our nation’s surface transportation infrastructure and fix the HTF.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will consider the INVEST in America Act at a Committee markup scheduled for Wednesday, June 17th.