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House Transportation Committee Democrats unveil surface transportation authorization proposal

Democratic leaders of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Friday released their five-year, $547 billion surface transportation reauthorization proposal, named the INVEST in America Act (identical to the name of their package last year. which failed to become law). This package includes funding titles for highways – including roadway safety infrastructure, bridges, transit and passenger and freight rail.

The legislation was unveiled without Republican support; Republicans had released their own version, dubbed the STARTER 2.0 Act, in May.

Highway Safety Improvement Program
Similar to the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee-passed legislation, the INVEST in America Act increases funding for the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), albeit at a lower level than the Senate bill. Although final numbers are still be calculated, ATSSA’s best summation is that HSIP would be funded at approximately $15.9 billion over 5 years, compared to the $16.8 billion over 5 years in the Senate version. Two billion dollars of that HSIP total would be set aside for projects under the Biden administration’s Safe Streets for All program, focused on vision zero projects. Similar to the Senate language, the T&I Committee bill reinstates a state’s ability to move up to 10% of HSIP funds to non-infrastructure safety programs, which ATSSA continues to be concerned with.

Rural Road Safety
The INVEST in America Act stipulates that if a state’s rural road fatality rate exceeds the nation’s median rate over the most recent two-year period of time, then that state must spend at least 7.5% of the state’s HSIP allocation on rural road safety projects. However, the funding for that increase would come from the Surface Transportation Program, not HSIP, so the safety funds would be additive rather than from the same safety funding source. (In short, it would trigger additional roadway safety infrastructure spending.)

Additionally, a new Rebuild Rural Bridges Program is created, funded at $1 billion over four years.

Highway-Railway Crossing
Under current law, funding for highway-railway crossing projects is a set aside within HSIP. Under the INVEST in America Act, that funding is removed from HSIP and a standalone highway-railway crossing program is created, funded at $980 million over four years.

Work Zone Safety
The consolidated set of programs which includes the Work Zone Safety Grant, Operation Lifesaver and other programs, is continued and increased in funding by $2 million. Additionally, the legislation also includes a safety contingency fund to ensure that the most cutting edge and robust safety plans are in place for roadway work zones. Both the consolidated programs and the safety contingency fund are funded at 100% federal share, which is a win for the industry.

The proposal would direct the next update to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) to include updates for electric vehicle charging station signage and to ensure that a safe systems approach was utilized when setting speed limits.

Tribal Road Safety
Unlike the Senate proposal, which included a specific roadway safety set aside for tribal transportation projects, the House bill does not include that safety set aside. However, funding for the overall tribal transportation program is increased and is funded at $3.2 billion over four years, and safety is an eligibility.

Wildlife Crossing
The INVEST in America Act would invest $400 million over four years on wildlife crossing safety countermeasures.

Next Steps
The House T&I Committee is expected to consider this legislation during a committee markup on Wednesday. If the committee votes to advance the proposal, it will head to the House floor to be coupled with a funding section and potentially additional, non-transportation infrastructure priorities.

Related documents:  Roadway Safety Letter to the Transportation and Infrastructure CommitteeInvest in America Act (signed)Invest in America Section by Section

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