Congressman Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania), chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, on Friday introduced the $325 billion Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform (STRR) Act of 2015 as a bi-partisan long-term solution for funding transportations needs.
Co-authoring the bill is Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon), Sam Graves (R-Missouri) and Eleanor Norton (D-Washington, D.C.)
The current patch for transportation funding passed this summer will end October 29. Industry leaders are anxiously awaiting either another short-term fix or the completion of a relatively long-lived solution such as this one or the Senate’s DRIVE Act.
Either way, legislators must act quickly to be the current deadline that is less than two weeks away.
The 543-page STRR would authorize funding for six years (fiscal years 2016-2021) and sets aside roughly $270 billion for highway and safety programs and $55 billion for transit programs.
The Federal-Aid Highway program alone would be appropriated $243.3 billion, with the following breakdown:
- FY2016—$38.4 billion
- FY2017—$39.1 billion
- FY2018—$39.9 billion
- FY2019—$40.8 billion
- FY2020—$41.6 billion
- FY2021—$42.5 billion
In addition to simply providing the funds, the bill also is designed to push innovation within transportation projects by promoting private investment, the use of new technology and “congestion management” tools, updating federal research and transportation standards development, encourage vehicle-to-infrastructure equipment installation and improve truck and bus safety via new transportation technologies.
Reform is also a big part of the STRR, with provisions to “streamline” environmental review and permit processing, something that has long plagued the timeliness of transportation projects and has led to increased expenditures.
The bill would give more autonomy over transportation projects to states and local governments. Streamlining the Department of Transportation bureaucracy also is included in the bill, along with creating a National Surface Transportation and Innovative Finance Bureau to work on developing public-private partnerships at all levels of government throughout the country.
And to offer ways to help move goods and “facilitate” commerce, the STRR would establish a Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects Program.
The entire bill is available for review here.