New Transportation Reauthorization Bill Released

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Overview
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee over the weekend released a new reauthorization bill that is very similar to the bill it passed two years ago, which died from inaction from other committees. This new bill provides $304 billion in contract authority, some 90% of which goes out through formula. Though some proposed programs were eliminated from the earlier version of the bill, several notable new programs remain, including new apportionment programs focused on carbon reduction and resilience.

What follows is a brief rundown of some of the more relevant items in the bill. If you want more detail relevant to MPOs and RTPOs on a section-by section-basis, please see NARC’s analysis. This is where you’ll find specific policy changes that the bill contains and other similar information.

Relevant Existing Programs
Surface Transportation Block Grant Program

  • $72B over five years (24% increase over FAST Act)
  • Percent suballocated by population remains at 55%
  • Share of apportionment decreased (from 29.3% to 28.7%) to create Carbon Reduction Program and PROTECT Program
  • Adds a fourth population band (50-200K), requiring states spend a relative portion in those areas and consult with their MPOs before doing so (and to ensure equitable division)
  • Off-system bridge set aside increased to 20% (15% in current law)
  • 10% set-aside for Transportation Alternatives
    • TAP suballocated increased to 59%
    • Funds come with obligation authority

Metropolitan Planning

  • $2.28B over five years (32% increase over FAST Act)
  • No major changes in this section specifically, but planning was impacted by other programs throughout the bill

Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality

  • $13.2B over five years (+10% over FAST Act)

Highway Safety Improvement Program

  • Share of apportionment decreased (from 7% to 6.7%) to create Carbon Reduction Program and PROTECT Program
  • $15.6B over five years (+34% over FAST Act)

Freight Program

  • $7.15B over five years (13% increase over FAST Act)

Safe Routes to Schools

  • Codifies the program

Relevant New Programs and Pilots
Carbon Reduction Program

  • New formula program to reduce transportation emissions
  • Eligible projects include establishing or operating a traffic monitoring, management, and control facility; public transportation projects; bicycle and pedestrian facilities; advance transportation and congestion management technologies; ITS capital improvements and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications equipment; efficient street lighting and traffic control devices; congestion pricing, mode shift, and TDM; projects to reduce environmental and community impacts of freight movement; alternative fuel vehicle deployment support; diesel retrofits; certain CMAQ-eligible projects; and port congestion reduction.
  • $6.4B over five years
    • 65% suballocated

PROTECT Program

  • Creates a program for resilience improvements
  • Formula funds are distributed to states; discretionary grants are for resilience planning, resilience improvement, community resilience and evacuation routes, and at-risk coastal infrastructure.
  • $7.3B over five years through formula; $1.4B over five years for grants

Bridge Investment Program

  • New competitive grant program to encourage bridge repair that will improve safety, efficiency, and reliability of people and freight movement, and leverages non-Federal contributions
  • $6.5B over five years (half from HTF, half from general funds)
  • TMAs eligible to receive grants

Congestion Relief Program

  • New competitive grant program to provide discretionary grants to “advance innovative, integrated, and multimodal solutions to congestion relief in the most congested metropolitan areas…”
  • Eligible projects include integrated congestion management system; HOV toll lanes, cordon price, parking pricing or congestion pricing; mobility services such as commuter buses and vans; and incentive programs to encourage carpooling.
  • MPOs in areas over 1M population are eligible
  • $250M over five years

Rural Surface Transportation Grant Program

  • New competitive grant program to “improve and expand the surface transportation infrastructure in rural areas”
  • $2B over five years
  • RTPOs are eligible recipients

Charging and Fueling Infrastructure Grants

  • New competitive grant program to “strategically deploy publicly accessible electric vehicle charging infrastructure and hydrogen fueling infrastructure, hydrogen fueling infrastructure, propane fueling infrastructure, and natural gas fueling infrastructure along designed alternative fuel corridors or in certain other locations that will be accessible to all drivers…”
  • $2.5B over five years
  • MPOs are eligible recipients

Healthy Streets Program

  • New competitive grant program to expand the use of cool pavement and porous pavement and expand tree cover
  • $500M over five years

Prioritization Process Pilot Program

  • Pilot program to “support data-driven approaches to planning that, on completion, can be evaluated for planning benefit”
  • $50M over 5 years, maximum awards of $2M
  • MPOs over 200K are eligible

Stopping Threats on Pedestrians

  • New competitive grant program to install bollards for pedestrian protection
  • $25M over five years

Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program

  • New pilot program to study the feasibility and impacts of removing an existing transportation facility that “creates a barrier to community activity” including mobility, economic development, and more
  • Planning grants can be awarded, up to $2M per recipient and federal share of 80%, including to MPOs or other units of local government, to perform the necessary planning functions to establish the feasibility and impacts and conduct public engagement. Allows for the provision of technical assistance.
  • Funding: Planning grants $50M over five years; capital construction grants $14M for each of fiscal years 2022-2026

 Transportation Access Pilot Program

  • New pilot program to develop or procure an accessibility data set and make it available to pilot participants to allow for improved planning by measuring access by different modes to delineated destinations and disaggregating the level of access by a variety of factors
  • Requires the establishment of measures that states, MPOs, and RTPOs may choose to adopt to assess the level of safe and convenient access to previously listed destinations
  • MPOs and RTPOs are eligible.

Strategic Innovation for Revenue Collection

  • New pilot program to “test the feasibility of a road usage fee and other user-based alternative revenue mechanisms to maintain the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund”
  • Provides for grants to a state or group of states, local governments or a group of local governments, or an MPO or group of MPOs to carry out pilot projects to: test design, acceptance, equity and implementation including among differing income groups and rural and urban drivers; provide recommendations; quantify administrative costs; test a variety of solutions for collection of data and fees; test solutions to ensure privacy and security of data; conduct public education; and evaluate the ease of compliance and enforcement
  • $75M over five years

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If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Erich Zimmermann at erich@narc.org.

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