U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) scored a major victory for transportation infrastructure this month when his bipartisan legislation, America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, passed out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee markup with a unanimous 21-0 vote. The legislation invests $287 billion in our country’s roads, bridges, and transportation infrastructure. This is a critical investment to maintaining a strong economy.
The legislation also addresses emissions reductions in the transportation sector by dedicating funding and creating a new set of incentives to reduce emissions through efficiencies, new infrastructure, and mitigating traffic congestion. Through a grant program the legislation will result in new infrastructure for alternative fuel vehicles, (including electric, natural gas, and hydrogen fuel cells), in highway corridors where the infrastructure doesn’t exist. This ensures that rural regions of the country are not left behind as new technologies come to the market. The bill also requires that federal agencies create a strategy to transition their fleets to electric, hybrid-electric, and alternative fuels within a year of enactment.
The legislation will also direct $250 million in funding towards a wildlife crossing pilot program that will reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions. The Federal Highway Administration has reported that there are more than 1,000,000 wildlife-vehicle collisions every year. This program will provide for crossing structures that will not only improve safety on our highways but will be part of effective wildlife corridors.
Co-sponsor Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) and Senator Barrasso noted in a joint opinion piece why addressing critical transportation infrastructure is so important:
Our response is simple. Give states the money, flexibility, and incentives to build safer and more modern highway and bridge systems that will connect more Americans, power our economy and endure the test of time for the next decade and beyond. Our legislation streamlines government regulations while prioritizing environmental protection so that projects are built better, faster, cheaper and smarter.
In the same piece the Senators also noted that:
Our climate is changing, and we recognize that. We also recognize the need to reduce carbon emissions from our transportation infrastructure. Dedicated funding and new incentives in our legislation will help states reduce their total transportation emissions. For example, states can get funding to help mitigate traffic congestion in urban areas. They also can choose to develop plans to reduce transportation related emissions and compete for additional funds if they meet or exceed them.
TWW encourages the full Senate and House to move quickly on this bipartisan legislation and send it the President Trump’s desk where he has indicated support for the deal.