New Highway Bill Proposed; Nation’s Patience Wearing Thin

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With just six days left until MAP-21’s expiration, all eyes are looking to the U.S. House to pass a long-term surface transportation bill. Yet, even if they do so by next week, another extension of MAP-21 will be necessary in order to iron out differences between the House and Senate-passed bills. Earlier this week, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee passed the bipartisan Surface Transportation Re-authorization and Reform Act.

According to The Hill, the bill would authorize spending $261 billion on highways, $55 billion on transit and approximately $9 billion on safety programs over the course of six years. However, the House has not yet identified the source of the additional billions of dollars necessary to support this level of investment. It is critical that the House pass this bill now in order to reach an agreement with the Senate on a final, compromise legislative package.

While ASCE supports continued funding for highway and transit programs included in the bill, increased long-term investment would, “provide states with greater certainty that the federal government is a trusted partner in transportation.”
Many citizens have responded to the latest bill with disappointment. Op-eds in Engineering News-Record, Bloomberg, Baltimore Sun, Herald Independent and The Southern share common frustrations with the bill’s failure to significantly increase investment and Congress’ inability to make headway towards finding a funding solution.

States will be forced to react to potential insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund in November. Michigan’s House proposed a transportation funding package that would devote an extra $1.2 billion for roads from a dividend of sources including registration fees, increased gas taxes and tax relief through a Homestead Property Tax Credit. And states like Georgia are considering postponing transportation projects altogether for the upcoming winter months.

Congress’ decision on this bill will have ripple effects on our nation’s transportation network and ultimately our economy. ASCE needs you to contact your House member and urge support of the House bill so funding can be addressed in conference with the Senate. Tell your Representative to support a six-year transportation bill with increased investment.

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