Senate Committee Introduces “America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act”

Leaders of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) introduced S. 2302, the “America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act” (ATIA), a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) which expires on September 30, 2020.  ATIA is a five-year authorization of $287 billion from the Highway Trust Fund, which is a 27% increase from FAST Act funding levels. $259 billion, or 90%, is distributed to states by formula.Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) introduced the bill.

Highway Trust Fund

ATIA does not include new revenues for the Highway Trust Fund. The bill does, however, build on the FAST Act program to test the feasibility of an alternative user-based revenue mechanism, such as a vehicle mile travelled (VMT) fee. S. 2302 provides $25 million per year, split evenly between state pilot projects and the national research program, to test alternative revenue mechanisms.

Under current law, public transportation projects are eligible for funding under several highway programs, including the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (STBG) and the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ). The bill continues significant funding for these programs. In addition, the bill expands the operating assistance eligibility under the CMAQ program for small urbanized and rural areas (areas with a population less than 200,000).  The bill also expands the eligibility of transit-oriented development (TOD) under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program to specifically include commercial and residential development near a rail station.

Addresses Environmental Challenges, the bill includes the following:

  • Establishes the Carbon Reduction Incentive Program to encourage reduced carbon emissions. Grants would be made available to state or local governments that demonstrate reduction in transportation emissions. The program will receive $100 million per year.
  • Institutes a congestion relief program to provide competitive grants to states and local governments to advance solutions to congestion relief in highly congested areas. Minimum grant award size is $10 million, and the bill provides $200 million over five years.
  • Creates the Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation (PROTECT) grant program, which helps states improve the resiliency of transportation infrastructure. $786 million will be given to states through a formula grant program and $200 million per year will be awarded through a competitive grant process.