America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019
America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019 is the largest amount of funding provided for highway reauthorization legislation in history. Here’s what that means for truckers.
What Does the Transportation Infrastructure Act Mean?
America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019 is a bipartisan agreement and is being called the largest highway legislation in history. It rolled out on July 29 and the Senate speaks very highly of it. The day following its rollout, very minor amendments were made that the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works unanimously approved. The bill seeks to authorize an astounding $287 billion in investments that will be spent over the next five years.
This massive sum includes $259 billion dedicated solely to “formula programs” that will help maintain the roads and bridges across the United States. This represents a more than 27% increase over FAST Act levels, according to numbers given in a press release. According to that press release, this measure is set to include “provisions to improve road safety, streamline project delivery, protect the environment and grow the economy.”
The two key highlights of the bill are as follows.
- First, it increases the funding for INFRA/ Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects Program to $4.5 billion over the next five years. Also, the available funds for multimodal projects will increase significantly through this program, taking the current $500 million cap to over $1.65 billion over five years. Additionally, it increases transparency when it comes to grant decisions and the process surrounding grant approvals.
- Second, it increases funding for freight formula programs to $8.5 billion over the next five years with the current authorization being $6.3 billion over five years. It also raises the amount of annual investments in multimodal freight infrastructure from a 10% project funds cap to a 30% project funds cap (or $2.55 billion).
Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Tom Carper (D-DE), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Ben Cardin (D-MD) sponsored the bill. Barrasso is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) while Carper is Ranking Member of the EPW. Meanwhile, Capito serves as Chairman of the EPW Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure and Cardin serves as Ranking Member of the same.
How This Act Could Benefit the Trucking Industry
As with any new regulation, this act has received both positive and negative response from trucking industry leaders and other sectors. Amongst the positive reactions is the statement from the American Trucking Associations, which welcomed the efforts being placed into the country’s roadways.
In a statement, ATA President and CEO Chris Spear said: “We thank Chairman Barrasso and Ranking Member Carper for taking this important first step toward reauthorizing our nation’s surface transportation systems … The strength of our economy relies on sound roads and bridges, as more than 70% of our nation’s goods travel by highway on the back of trucks. With the right investment, we can stem America’s deepening infrastructure crisis and instead achieve a 21st century infrastructure worthy of the world’s leading economy.”
The American Trucking Associations then said that they were looking forward to collaborating with the committee and other relevant committees to help guide the implementation of this legislation package. The ATA also offered support for “long-term, sustainable funding” and said it was critically needed by the country’s highway programs.
NATSO, the association for truck stop and travel plaza operators, also reacted to the bill. The association urged the EPW Committee to advance the proposal and President and CEO Lisa Mullings said: “We applaud Committee Chairman John Barrasso and Ranking Member Tom Carper for introducing a bipartisan effort to address the nation’s critical infrastructure needs through ‘America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019.”
Lisa also added that she felt “this measure marks a step in the right direction when it comes to enhancing supply chain efficiencies, while also harnessing the private sector’s ingenuity to take meaningful steps to improve the environment.” NATSO also openly sports the Committee’s effort to make for a grant program to help stimulate private investment in both natural-gas refueling stations and electric-vehicle charging stations at certain highway corridors.
Just the Beginning?
This act is just one of many new pieces of legislation that could help propel the trucking industry forward, and it is receiving great applause from industry leaders.
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