Executive Committee Approves Federal Transportation Priorities
August 1, 2019
Today, the CSAC Executive Committee voted to approve draft policy priorities for federal surface transportation reauthorization legislation. Congress passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (“FAST”) Act in 2015. While the FAST Act doesn’t expire until September 2020, Congress has already started its work on reauthorization.
The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee recently unveiled a draft surface transportation reauthorization bill for fiscal years 2021 through 2025. The Committee unanimously passed the bill in a mark-up on Tuesday, July 30. The bill will receive a vote before full the Senate later this year. The U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure will also introduce their own version, likely leading to a conference where differences will have to be worked out between the two versions prior to sending to President Trump’s desk for signature. For more details, see CSAC’s Washington DC update here.
A core issue unresolved by the FAST Act is the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). While the bill provided five years of funding, it did not increase transportation revenues in order to address the structural shortfall in the federal HTF. Given the long-term insolvency of the HTF, a federal transportation funding fix continues to be the top priority for CSAC. Other key priorities include for counties include:
Restoring the Highway Bridge Program
- Provide dedicated revenue for on-system highway bridge projects, either by creating a set-aside similar to the off-system highway bridge set-aside or restoring the Highway Bridge Program as a core program.
- Increase dedicated funding for preventative maintenance on, and replacement of, bridges. This is a critical safety issue.
Ensuring Eligibility for Emergency Relief Projects
- Provide relief for local agencies impacted by disasters by extending the statutory limit for emergency relief projects under the Federal Highways Administration to six years with the possibility of additional one-year extensions for just cause
Focusing on Safety
- Increase funding for safety infrastructure projects on the existing transportation system.
- Programs/projects must be aimed at reducing the greatest number of fatalities regardless of ownership of the system.
- Ensure the rural road system, where fatality rates are the highest, retains dedicated funding.
- Promote and increase funding for bicycle and pedestrian safety projects and programs.
The full list of draft priorities approved by the Executive Committee is available here. These policy priorities will be referred to the CSAC Board of Directors for final approval at its September 5 meeting.