SENATE ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE APPROVES NEW HIGHWAY BILL
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously approved a six-year, $265 billion highway reauthorization bill this week that makes freight a core element within the federal highway program. The Senate Commerce, Banking and Finance Committees still have to report their parts of the legislation before the full Senate can start deliberating this measure. The original version of the existing transportation spending law, known as MAP-21, expires on September 30, 2014. The new MAP-21 bill would maintain current spending levels for highways, plus inflation. The bill would require states to spend a portion of their federal highway money on projects that enhance freight mobility and allocates $6 billion over the life of the bill for freight projects. It calls for a $400 million-a-year competitive grant program for projects of regional and national significance—projects that could improve freight mobility—and it maintains core highway programs such as the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program. A copy of the proposal can be found on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s website. The House has not yet indicated what will be in its transportation bill or when that measure will be unveiled. NGVAmerica is currently reviewing the proposal.