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ATSSA board member testifying before Congress on Wednesday

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ATSSA Board Member Cindy Williams will testify on Capitol Hill before the House Highways and Transit Subcommittee on Wednesday regarding roadway safety and the rising number of traffic fatalities.

Williams is president of Time Striping in Van Buren, Ark., and president of the Arkansas ATSSA Chapter.

The hearing will be livestreamed at 10 a.m. on the House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure website.

As ATSSA reported on May 17, traffic fatalities across the U.S. rose 10.5% in 2021 to a projected 42,915 deaths, reaching a 16-year high, according to statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee passes surface transportation authorization proposal

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Early this morning, the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee passed a five-year, $548 billion surface transportation authorization proposal out of committee, mostly on a party-line vote.

Two Republican members of the committee, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R-Puerto Rico), crossed over and voted with the Democrats. The legislation, named the INVEST in America Act, passed out of the committee after a marathon session that began Wednesday morning and finished around 5 a.m. today. Both Democrats and Republicans offered hundreds of amendments during the process.

This proposal includes funding titles for highways – including roadway safety infrastructure, bridges, transit and passenger and freight rail. By and large, the legislation and the process were derided as partisan by Republican committee members.

House Transportation Committee Democrats unveil surface transportation authorization proposal

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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.

They’re baaaaaaaaaack – Earmarks that is

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Late last week, House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) announced a process for bringing back congressional directed funding, also known as earmarks. Additionally, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) disseminated a “Dear Colleague” letter to members of Congress indicating his plan to include earmarks in the upcoming highway bill, which is expected to be part of a larger House infrastructure package.

Earmarks are projects that receive some level of federal funding for state and local projects in congressional districts. They differ from competitive grant programs in that competitive grants are applied for and decided by staff at the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), whereas earmarks are advocated for by interested parties and members of Congress decide if they want to include them in a particular legislative vehicle.

Because of an extremely bloated earmark process in the 2005 surface transportation bill, Congress opted to ban earmarks starting in 2011. Since then, there have been occasional rumors that they may return; however, DeLauro’s and DeFazio’s announcements mark the first time there has been this serious of an effort.

Report estimates 2020 traffic fatalities highest in 13 years

National Safety Council releases preliminary data on motor vehicle crashes

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Fatal motor vehicle crashes in 2020 increased 8% over the previous year despite a drop in driving because of the pandemic, according to a report released this morning by the National Safety Council (NSC).

Preliminary data suggests 42,060 people died and 4.8 million were seriously injured in crashes in 2020, according to the report. The rate of death from that data shows a 24% rise over the previous year though motorists traveled 13% fewer miles. That accounted for the biggest year-over-year increase in 96 years, the report noted.

“It is tragic that in the U.S., we took cars off the roads and didn’t reap any safety benefits,” Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO of NSC, said in the release. “These data expose our lack of an effective roadway safety culture. It is past time to address roadway safety holistically and effectively, and NSC stands ready to assist all stakeholders, including the federal government.”