Senate Highway Reauthorization Proposal
The bipartisan leadership of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW)
Projects of National and Regional Significance. The bill would make “Projects of National and
Regional Significance” a per...
TIFIA and Innovative Finance. The proposal would continue to allocate $1 billion per year for
the Transportation Infrastru...
Senate MAP-21 Reauthorization Bill Authorization Levels
(billions of dollars)
FY 2015 FY 2016 FY 2017 FY 2018 FY 2019 FY 2...
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Artba Senate Summary


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Artba Senate Summary

  1. 1. Senate Highway Reauthorization Proposal The bipartisan leadership of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee late May 12 released a proposed six-year, $260 billion reauthorization of the federal highway program. While the measure’s investment total reflects current levels of highway investment adjusted annually for inflation, the bill’s authors have taken steps within the program to direct an increased proportion of resources toward infrastructure activities. The measure maintains the new highway program structure created in the 2012 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) and adds $6 billion for a new National Freight Program and $2.4 billion for a new Projects of Regional and National Significance Program. The measure, however, would shift $400 million per year in Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) research activities that are currently supported by the Highway Trust Fund’s Highway Account to the federal General Fund. As a result, if the bill was enacted, future FHWA research funding would need to be provided specifically in the annual appropriations process. The proposal from EPW Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Ranking Republican David Vitter (R-La.), Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Subcommittee Ranking Republican John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) is scheduled to be considered by the full EPW Committee May 15. Key highlights of the proposal include: National Freight Program. The bill would upgrade the National Freight Policy section of MAP-21 into a National Freight Program, with separate funding growing from $400 million in FY 2016 to $2 billion in FY 2020. Most of the provisions track MAP-21 freight policy, with one major addition setting out how the freight program funds may be used. The MAP-21 provision giving the secretary of transportation one year to designate a 27,000 mile national freight network would be amended to allow states to increase designated mileage by up to 10 percent and give states permission to add critical urban freight corridors as well as critical rural freight corridors to the network. The bill would also require states to establish a freight advisory committee and develop a state freight plan, both of which were encouraged but not mandatory under MAP-21. This proposal differs from similar provisions in the Administration’s proposed reauthorization bill by limiting the national freight network to highways and intermodal connectors, whereas the Administration would include rail and other modes.
  2. 2. Projects of National and Regional Significance. The bill would make “Projects of National and Regional Significance” a permanent program with $400 million in funding per year. The secretary could make grants for high-cost projects that would have a significant impact on a region or the nation but would be difficult to complete with existing federal, state, local and private funds. Projects costing more than $350 million, or exceeding a designated percent of the state’s federal highway funds, and meeting a list of program selection criteria would be eligible for grants of up to $50 million. At least 20 percent of the funding must go for projects in rural areas and rural states, and no more than 20 percent of the available funds in a fiscal year may be awarded to projects in a single state. Project Delivery. The Senate proposal would build upon improvements to the project delivery process initiated through MAP-21. Whereas MAP-21 introduced many new reforms to the project delivery process, the Senate proposal would clarify those reforms and, in some cases, expand opportunities for their use. In particular, the Senate proposal would expand the use of “programmatic agreements” during project review and approval. Programmatic agreements are arrangements between different parties involved in the environmental review and approval process which outline responsibilities and have been found to reduce project delay. The Senate proposal would direct the secretary to establish a programmatic agreement “template” in an effort to encourage their use. Also, the Senate proposal allows programmatic agreements to be given “substantial weight” for satisfying environmental responsibilities under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). If enacted, the measure would also focus on reducing duplicative efforts in the NEPA and transportation planning processes. Specifically, the proposal increases the opportunities for documents developed during the planning process to be used to satisfy NEPA requirements. Also, alternatives analyzed and rejected during the planning process would not need to be re-analyzed during NEPA review. The Senate proposal also simplifies historical preservation and mitigation requirements. Under the bill, the secretary of transportation may determine that no practical alternative exists when a project might impact a historical resource. When such a determination is made, there would no longer be a need for any further alternatives analysis. The Senate proposal also contains provisions expanding the use of categorical exclusions for multi-modal projects. Highway Trust Fund Accountability. The proposal would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to make detailed data on all federal-aid projects and federal funds available to the public on its website. Data would have to be published within 180 days after the end of each fiscal year and updated regularly. The information would include project data as well as summary data by state and by program. The provision strengthens an ARTBA-supported proposal from MAP-21.
  3. 3. TIFIA and Innovative Finance. The proposal would continue to allocate $1 billion per year for the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation (TIFIA) Program that provides credit assistance and loan guarantees to eligible projects. The proposal would expand TIFIA eligibility for transit-oriented development projects and environmental mitigation. The Senate bill would also allow the secretary of transportation to set aside up to 10 percent of the annual TIFIA allocation to help capitalize state infrastructure banks. Further, the measure would restore a state’s ability to use up to 10 percent of their highway formula funds to capitalize a state infrastructure bank. HTF Revenue Alternatives. The bill would require the secretary to carry out a research and development program to explore alternative sustainable user revenue options for the Highway Trust Fund. The research would have to explore and evaluate at least three options and requires biennial updates and a final report with recommendations. American Transportation Awards. The bill would authorize the “American Transportation Awards” program, a new competitive grant to support performance-based transportation plans and to improve efficiency and reduce the cost of transportation projects by focusing on best- practices and innovative techniques. The bill authorizes $125 million per year in federal General Funds for this initiative. Bundled Bridges. The measure includes a provision “encouraging” state DOTs to bundle two or more similar bridge projects as one project “to save costs and time.” These bundled projects are to be awarded under a single contract for design and/or construction. To constitute a bundling of projects for purposes of this provision, each individual project must be eligible for federal aid within the same federal funding category or subcategory and at the same percentage of federal reimbursement. The bundled project must be included in a statewide or metropolitan transportation improvement program. Apportionment of Funds. Funds would be distributed among the states in the same proportion as in FY 2014, adjusted to assure that each state receive no less than 95 percent of tax payments from the state into the Highway Account of the Highway Trust Fund. Assuming the projected HA revenue shortfall is filled by general fund transfers, all states should meet the 95 percent return provision without any adjustment.
  4. 4. Senate MAP-21 Reauthorization Bill Authorization Levels (billions of dollars) FY 2015 FY 2016 FY 2017 FY 2018 FY 2019 FY 2020 From the Highway Trust Fund: Core Highway Programs $38.441 $39.173 $39.987 $40.842 $41.698 $42.549 Administration $0.440 $0.440 $0.440 $0.440 $0.440 $0.440 TIFIA $1.000 $1.000 $1.000 $1.000 $1.000 $1.000 Federal Land & Tribal Programs $1.000 $1.000 $1.000 $1.000 $1.000 $1.000 Proj. of Nat. or Reg. Significance $0.400 $0.400 $0.400 $0.400 $0.400 $0.400 Territorial & PR Highway Program $0.190 $0.190 $0.190 $0.190 $0.190 $0.190 Ferry Boat Program $0.075 $0.075 $0.075 $0.075 $0.075 $0.075 Total Highway Trust Fund $41.546 $42.278 $43.092 $43.947 $44.803 $45.654 From the General Fund: Research , Tech. & Training $0.400 $0.400 $0.400 $0.400 $0.400 $0.400 American Transpiration Awards $0.125 $0.125 $0.125 $0.125 $0.125 Total General Fund $0.400 $0.525 $0.525 $0.525 $0.525 $0.525 Total Authorizations $41.946 $42.803 $43.617 $44.472 $45.328 $46.179 Obligation Limitation $40.907 $41.639 $42.453 $43.308 $44.164 $45.060 Exempt Contract Authority $0.639 $0.639 $0.639 $0.639 $0.639 $0.639 Total budgetary Resources $41.546 $42.278 $43.092 $43.947 $44.803 $45.699 Given the Senate Finance Committee would need to find $100 billion in additional resources to supplement current Highway Trust Fund revenues to maintain current levels of federal surface transportation investment, it is unclear when or if the EPW plan will move forward. Many members of Congress have begun talking about an extension of current law and investment levels through the end of the calendar year to get beyond the 2014 election—such a measure would require an additional $8 to $10 billion in revenues.