Senate committee releases infrastructure bill text

Senate committee releases infrastructure bill text

Editorial/Commentary News AGC, AASHTO, ITS America November 08, 2011
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The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee last Friday released the text of the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” (MAP-21), a two year reauthorization of the federal-aid highway program at current funding levels.

 

"We are happy to see the process has begun to put in place a long-term surface transportation authorization,” John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials, said in a statement. “We look forward to seeing the markup this week in committee. Meanwhile, we are reviewing the draft legislation and we look forward to working with the committee to craft the kind of robust, flexible legislation that will help states build and maintain a transportation system that meets our nation's needs in the 21st century."

 

The legislation contains provisions for consolidating funding programs, reforming the environmental review and planning process, addressing highway worker safety, assisting with diesel retrofits and establishing performance measurements.

 

The committee is scheduled to mark up the bill Wednesday, Nov. 9.

 

In order to fund the highway program at current levels, additional Highway Trust Fund revenue must be provided, according to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) but this is the responsibility of the Finance Committee, which will develop its section of the legislation separately. In addition the bill does not specifically address the transit program, because this in the jurisdiction of the Senate Banking Committee, which also must act separately.

 

Following are some of the details of the bill included in AGC’s Highway Facts Bulletin:

 

• Each state guaranteed 95% return on the amount of gas tax revenue collected, compared with the current 92% rate;

 

• Each year FHWA must calculate what the Highway Trust Fund balance will be at the end of the year. If the projection is below $2 billion, FHWA must take actions to ensure that a $2 billion balance is maintained and a $1 billion balance is maintained in the following year;

 

• Authorizes $1 billion each in FY12 and FY 13 for the TIFIA program, which provides loans, loan guarantees and lines of credit. This funding is provided outside of the HTF. Funding for TIFIA has been $122 million per year for the past eight years and recently the amount of applications for this funding has been four times the amount available; and

 

• Maximum share of project costs funded by TIFIA is increased from 33% to 49%.

 
  • • Authorizes $40.9 billion in FY12 and $41.56 billion in FY13, compared with $40.236 billion in FY 10;
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MAP-21 also includes program reforms designed to reduce project delivery time and costs. The legislation expands the number and types of projects that can be excluded from the federal environmental review process. The legislation also allows for early acquisition of right-of-way, encourages early coordination between relevant agencies to avoid delays later in the review process and directs DOT to develop specific review deadlines.

 

ITS America President and CEO Scott Belcher said, “ITS America applauds the leadership of Chairman Boxer, Ranking Member Inhofe and Sens. Baucus and Vitter for crafting a bipartisan bill that will put innovative technology to work addressing challenges from traffic congestion to highway fatalities, fixing and modernizing our infrastructure and creating a more accountable, performance-based planning and funding process for transportation projects.”

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