Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS) recently introduced the Surface Transportation Investment Act which authorizes $78 billion over five years to address key infrastructure and safety priorities broken out as follows: $36 billion for rail, $27.8 billion for multimodal grant programs and $13 billion for safety programs.
“With the economy rebounding, it’s imperative that our long delayed transportation needs are addressed,” Chair Cantwell said. “Whether it’s moving people safely, delivering freight on time, or addressing environmental needs, this legislation is a down payment to thrive and compete in the innovation economy.”
“This bill continues the Commerce Committee’s strong history of working across the aisle to find solutions that benefit all Americans,” Ranking Member Wicker said. “The legislation will grow the economy by increasing authorized funding and making improvements to our rail, freight, ports, research, and safety programs. I thank Senator Cantwell for her dedication to these issues, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass a comprehensive infrastructure package through the Senate.”
Below are some highlights from the Surface Transportation Investment Act:
MULTIMODAL AND FREIGHT INVESTMENTS – $28 billion
Freight: This bill invests an average of $1.2 billion a year in the Nationally Significant Multimodal Freight grant program, also known as INFRA. Additionally, the bill provides resources for multistate planning and research.
Multimodal Investment: This bill for the first time authorizes the U. S. DOT’s BUILD/RAISE grant program at $1.5 billion annually and creates a new program to fund big dollar value projects of national significance at $2 billion annually. Additionally, the bill provides rural and tribal communities with the resources and tools to better plan and compete for financial assistance.
Multimodal freight policy: The bill authorizes a new office of Multimodal Freight Infrastructure and Policy, updates the National Freight Strategic Plan, and improves coordination between the federal and state governments on freight planning.
RAIL – $36 billion
Passenger Rail: This bill authorizes over $25 billion over five years for intercity passenger rail, the most significant bipartisan investment in passenger rail in history. This bill protects Amtrak’s critically important long-distance routes, provides funding to address the Northeast Corridor project backlog, and encourages expansion of passenger rail corridors with State support.
Safety: This bill invests $7.5 billion over five years for rail safety and improvement projects, including a new $500 million per year grant program to eliminate grade crossings and a significant increase in funding for the popular Consolidated Rail and Infrastructure Safety Improvement (CRISI) grant program.
RRIF: The bill makes substantial improvements to the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program (RRIF) to make it a more attractive and useful to potential borrowers. For the first time, it authorizes $50 million per year for credit risk premium assistance similar to other U.S. DOT loan programs, expands eligibility to transit-oriented development projects and landside port infrastructure, and codifies the RRIF express program targeted at smaller and rural project applicants.
SAFETY – $13 billion
Highway Safety: This bill invests $6 billion into the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) highway safety programs
Truck Safety: This bill invests $4.6 billion into the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) commercial vehicle programs through proven programs that provide flexibility to states to help address highway fatalities, combat human trafficking, and improve law enforcement training.
Hazardous Materials Safety: This legislation invests $500 million dollars over five years to improve first responder planning and training for hazardous material incidents.
RESEARCH – $1 billion
This bill invests nearly $1 billion for new and existing research and development programs.
The legislation also reauthorizes and makes important reforms to many of the agencies in the Department of Transportation including:
- The Office of the Secretary (OST)
- The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
- The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) Hazardous Materials Programs
A summary of the legislation is available HERE, a section-by-section can be found HERE, and the full text of the bill can be read HERE.