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Senate Committee Will Vote on Highway Bill This Week

November 07, 2011

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The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will vote on a two-year, $109 billion highway reauthorization bill this week. Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), as the bill is called, is intended to preserve current spending levels.
The MAP-21 bill would create a new National Freight Network Program, which would provide funds to states to improve cargo movement and intermodal connectors.
The MAP-21 bill would create a new National Freight Network Program, which would provide funds to states to improve cargo movement and intermodal connectors.


The committee has not yet said how it will pay for the $12 billion that will be needed to do that.

The bill consolidates some 90 federal programs down to less than 30, in order to eliminate duplication and focus resources. For example, it would merge the Interstate Maintenance, National Highway System and part of the Highway Bridge programs into one program that focuses on the most critical stretches of road.

The bill also eliminates earmarks, and proposes reforms to expedite project delivery.

In addition, it boosts funding for the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation program, which leverages federal money by providing loans, loan guarantees and lines of credit to pay for highway projects of national and regional significance. Funding would go from $122 million to $1 billion a year, and the cap on federal cost-sharing would go from 33% to 49%.

The bill would create a new National Freight Network Program, which would provide funds to states to improve cargo movement and intermodal connectors.

Other provisions target performance management issues. For example, the bill would hold states and metropolitan planning organizations accountable for improving the condition and performance of their assets, the committee said in its summary. It also aims to improve planning processes to help states and MPOs make better use of their resources.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairman of the EPW Committee, said the bill has bipartisan support on the committee. "I am proud to be Chairman of a committee that has joined together across party lines to write a strong, job-creating transportation bill," she said in a statement. "I believe that our bill will not only protect the 1.8 million transportation jobs, but we will also create up to an additional million jobs thanks to the way our bill leverages federal funds."

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., the ranking member of the committee, said he was pleased to join Boxer and other committee leaders on the measure. "There is a strong bipartisan majority in the Senate that supports putting Americans back to work by building our roads and bridges," he said in a statement. "I look forward to working with my EPW colleagues to pass this bill."

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