Government Issues

T&I Committee unveils surface transportation reauthorization, reform act

Posted on October 21, 2015

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leaders introduced the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015 (H.R. 3763), a bipartisan, multi-year surface transportation bill to reauthorize and reform federal highway, transit, and highway safety programs.

The legislation helps improve the nation’s surface transportation infrastructure, reforms programs and refocuses those programs on addressing national priorities, maintains a strong commitment to safety, and promotes innovation to make the system and programs work better.

The legislation also includes language bridging the House and Senate approaches to extending the deadline for U.S. railroads to implement positive train control technology and preventing significant disruptions of both passenger and freight rail service across the country.

The measure was introduced by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO), and Highways and Transit Subcommittee Ranking Member Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).

“This is a bill that improves our roads, bridges, and transportation system, as well as our economy, our competitiveness and our everyday lives,” Shuster said. “The legislation streamlines, consolidates, and reforms transportation programs and offices, gives states and local governments more control in addressing their needs, refocuses on national transportation priorities, facilitates the flow of freight and commerce, and promotes innovation as we improve our infrastructure for the future. The more efficient our surface transportation system is, the less time we spend in traffic, the lower the transportation costs for goods and services, and the more jobs that are created throughout the economy.”

“This bill moves us from repetitive short-term extensions, which have halted most major work in states, to a bipartisan effort that acts as a building block for the funding the country needs to fix and improve our roads, bridges and transit systems,” said Norton. “Chairman Shuster, Chairman Graves, Ranking Member DeFazio and I have worked together to achieve the most important part of this bill: the return of Congress to the six-year authorization that we know is necessary if states are to do the planning needed to revive our infrastructure. By authorizing a six-year bill, our committee leaders and I are accepting the responsibility to do all we can to ensure that the states can rely on Congress in the end to fund it.”

The Committee is scheduled to mark up the legislation at 10 a.m. on Thursday. For more on the bill, click here.

APTA President/CEO Michael Melaniphy released the following statement:

"On behalf of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), our 1,500 member organizations, and the millions of Americans that rely on public transportation, we commend the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's leadership in working to advance the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015. We commend the Committee for crafting this bipartisan surface transportation authorization bill that provides added certainty through a multi-year authorization period. That certainty is important for public transportation providers to plan future capital investments. However, we are concerned that in this constrained financial environment, the program funding levels are not sufficient to adequately address the $86 billion state of good repair backlog as well as the future demand facing our communities.

APTA's recommendations call on Congress to pass a bill authorizing a six-year federal public transportation program that substantially increases federal investment, with predictable funding. The association's recommendations addresses long-term capital and state of good repair needs as well as expansion of public transit infrastructure.

APTA applauds the Committee's efforts to address the bus capital investment needs across this nation. The bill increases bus formula funding, restores a discretionary bus and bus facilities capital program and provides for greater flexibility in bus procurement and human services transportation coordination. Additionally, we strongly support the bipartisan agreement reached on legislation to provide for a responsible extension of time for railroads to implement life-saving positive train control technology. However, the funding limitations surrounding the bill preclude the needed growth in the core formula and state of good repair programs. Further, we continue to maintain concerns about provisions in the bill that increase Buy America domestic content for rolling stock, as well as provisions that reduce the federal share for transit capital investments and reduce the flexibility of state and local sponsors to utilize other federal transportation funds.

Ultimately, failure to adequately invest at the federal level will only increase the already too large, and growing, backlog of state of good repair investment needs, inhibit the ability of public transit providers to meet the growing demand for service, and result in higher long-term costs associated with maintaining the existing system.

We look forward to continuing to work with the Committee and Congress as it works to identify more resources that can be dedicated to the Highway Trust Fund and added to the bill to support investments in public transportation and highways. We stand ready to work with Congress as this legislation moves forward."

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