A new bill addressing both the nation’s road and bridge needs, as well as how to pay for such infrastructure projects, is winning praise in Washington.
Introduced by Wyoming Senator John Barrasso and Delaware Senator Tom Carper, the legislation, officially called America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, calls for $287 million in funding for a wide variety of infrastructure work.
That $287 million would come out of the existing Highway Trust Fund, with $259 million of that amount going directly to the states as part of a spending formula.
The bill also calls for $1 billion in grants for the construction of electric, natural gas, and hydrogen fueling stations.
Addressing the complaints of many in the construction industry, the bill additionally proposes speeding up the federal review and permitting process for new transportation projects, requiring a single document for environmental review, and decisions to be signed by all of the participating agencies.
On the issue of bridges, the bill states: “Every state with a well-justified proposal will receive funding to improve the condition and safety of its aging bridges.”
Noting that state governments often find it difficult to pay for expensive bridge repair projects, the bill says that federal funding will be particularly available for projects valued at more than $100 million.
The legislation, the largest of its kind in history, has so far won the support from a variety of groups, some of whom note that initial bi-partisan backing of the bill could signal its eventual success.
The Environmental Defense Fund has praised the legislation for promoting electric vehicle infrastructure, while the Associated General Contractors of America, in a statement, said the bill includes “many thoughtful improvements to surface transportation policy that evolve a 20th century program into something more appropriate for today’s transportation needs.”
Both President Trump and Democrat Congressional leaders have also signaled their support.
Approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the legislation is now on its way to the full Senate for review.
By Garry Boulard
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