The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has set its 2017 legislative action agenda, which aims to prod the Trump administration and Congress to create a “sustainable and long-term funding stream for transportation investment” as one of its goals.
“AASHTO has been engaging in a robust dialogue with both the new presidential administration and the 115th Congress,” says Joung Lee, AASHTO policy director. “What we are seeing is a high demand by policymakers for technical assistance on important policy issues—including funding and financing, program structure and project delivery, among many others—to aid in the design of a potentially very significant infrastructure package.”
The priorities of the association’s agenda include:
- Implement Sustainable, Long-Term Funding for Transportation Investment: AASHTO informs and supports increased federal transportation investment based on its evaluation of 38 possible transportation revenue mechanisms and lessons learned from a multitude of state-level revenue e orts since 2012.
- Strengthen the State-Administered, Federally- Assisted National Transportation Program: With more exibility, States have the capacity to as- sume more federal authorities to speed up project delivery and to invest in every area of our country. AASHTO is a proven partner in mobilizing all states to implement major transportation infrastructure initiatives both in the short- and long-term.
- Ensure Economic Productivity and Competitiveness Through a Seamless Nationwide Freight Network: States and their private-sector partners need both the funding and policy tools to meet their freight investment needs, anticipate new trade patterns, and accommodate growth in freight volumes.
- Deliver Balanced, Multimodal Mobility Solutions: AASHTO supports a robust, national multimodal transportation network that serves both urban
and rural areas in passenger and freight movement by de ning exible approaches to transportation facility design.
- Streamline Regulations, Including on Permitting and Approvals: AASHTO recognizes opportunities to improve the federal regulatory process by reduc- ing complexity and burden for project sponsors. For example, under the Center for Environmen- tal Excellence, AASHTO has partnered with the U.S. Department of Transportation since 2001 to advance streamlined project delivery and environ- mental stewardship.
- Honor Authorized Funding Levels in Appropriations: The FAST Act provided annual increases
in surface transportation funding through 2020. Transportation appropriations should fully honor highway, highway safety, transit, and passenger rail programs at authorized amounts.
- Further Enhance Decision-Making Based on Performance: AASHTO supports implementing statutorily authorized performance management frameworks for highway safety, bridge and pave- ment, system performance, and freight in partner- ship with the U.S. Department of Transportation.
- Ensure Accountability for the Lifecycle: AASHTO promotes sound and innovative asset management practices through an interactive portal to connect experts and practitioners from around the nation.
- Reauthorize Federal Aviation Administration Programs: AASHTO supports a multiyear FAA bill that provides more exibility to fund multimodal projects and maintains the non-primary airport grant program, Essential Air Service Program, and Small Community Air Service Development Pro- gram.
- Foster and Implement Cutting-Edge Innovation: In addition to hosting the National Operations Center of Excellence, AASHTO advances peer-to- peer innovation by seeking out proven advance- ments in transportation technology, then investing resources necessary to accelerate their adoption by agencies nationwide.
- Leverage Revenue Streams and Harnessing Private Capital: In cooperation with the U.S. Depart- ment of Transportation, AASHTO established the BATIC Institute: An AASHTO Center for Excel- lence in 2014, which enhances taxpayer value from transportation investment by promoting public sector capacity building in the analysis, under- standing, and use of project nance techniques including greater application of private capital.
- Ensure Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability: AASHTO’s Resilient and Sustainable Trans- portation Systems Program assists state DOTs to better understand the potential e ects of extreme weather by identifying a range of strategies and options for adaption and mitigation.
- Utilize Tax Credits to Incentivize Infrastructure Investment: AASHTO provided indispensable expertise to Congress that helped to develop the ex- tremely successful Build America Bonds program in 2009, which included both direct-pay and tax credit features to supplement the tax-exempt bond market.