In what might be regarded as a rare display of bi-partisan unity, members of the U.S. Senate, on a 92 to 6 vote, have approved a bill designed to fund a wide variety of transportation infrastructure projects.
The transportation funding is part of a package of four separate fiscal year 2019 spending measures totaling more than $154 billion.
The transportation part will see the funding for everything from transit capital grants to highway maintenance funding and airport infrastructure grants.
As approved, the bill adds $3.3 billion for highway and bridge upkeep and construction projects; and $300 million for drinking water and wastewater treatment infrastructure revolving funds.
The money for airport infrastructure projects is set at $3.3 billion, which will go to the ongoing federal Airport Improvement Program run by the Federal Aviation Administration. That’s an increase of $750 million over last year’s funding.
The bill does not go along with the Trump Administration’s idea to do away with the discretionary grants that used to go by the name of Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants.
Instead, it keeps intact TIGER’s replacement, the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development Transportation grants program, which awards funding to programs based on such factors as safety, economic competitiveness, and environmental protection.
The Senate Bill now has to be reconciled with House legislation before the official beginning of the fiscal year on October 1.
By Garry Boulard
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