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Bipartisan surface transportation bill emerges from Senate

By |  May 25, 2021
Sure, New York City traffic is horrible. But eliminating cars from New York City roads and expecting other U.S. cities to adopt the Big Apple's model is quite the stretch. Photo: Bim/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

The newly introduced Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021 sets a new baseline funding level at a historic high of $303.5 billion for Department of Transportation programs. Photo: Bim/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

The Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works (EPW) introduced a surface transportation infrastructure bill late last week.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia), the ranking member of the Senate EPW Committee, introduced the bill alongside Sens. Tom Carper (D-Delaware), Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) and Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota).

According to Capito, the group’s Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021 sets a new baseline funding level at a historic high of $303.5 billion for Department of Transportation programs for highways, roads and bridges. The bill marks an increase of more than 34 percent from the FAST Act – the last reauthorization to pass Congress – in 2015.

“Safe and reliable infrastructure is something every American can get behind,” Capito says. “From the beginning of this process, I have expressed my desire to work together across the aisle to develop a bipartisan solution to address our nation’s infrastructure challenges. Our bill unveiled today accomplishes this. Not only will this comprehensive, bipartisan legislation help us rebuild and repair America’s surface transportation system, but it will also help us build new transportation infrastructure. These critical investments will help to provide economic opportunities now and for future generations.

According to the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA), the Surface Transportation Act of 2021 will head to markup by the full Senate EPW committee this week, as other Senate committees with jurisdiction continue to craft their infrastructure titles.

“We are excited to work with all EPW committee members as this bill heads to markup this week, and we encourage the other committees of jurisdiction to pass their titles quickly before the current FAST Act extension expires on Sept. 30,” says Michele Stanley, vice president of government and regulatory affairs at NSSGA. “EPW’s introduction and quick markup of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021 is a significant first step, and the aggregates industry is ready to help and support this bill as it advances through Congress.”

The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) also offered its support of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021.

“NAPA has been very pleased to participate in bipartisan efforts to envision predictable and future-oriented funding for the nation’s roads, highways, and bridges,” says Audrey Copeland, president and CEO of NAPA. “We are very supportive of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021, including provisions we sought to keep pavement crews, and the traveling public, safe on our nation’s roads.”

Elsewhere on infrastructure

Aside from the Senate EPW Committee’s bill, negotiations on a federal infrastructure bill continue between the Biden administration and Senate Republicans. President Biden last week shaved more than half a trillion dollars off an initial proposal in a counteroffer to Senate Republicans. The president’s proposal now sits at $1.7 trillion bill.

Biden first introduced a bill totaling about $2.3 trillion, and Senate Republicans countered at $568 billion. A key difference between the president’s proposal and Republicans’ is the focus. Whereas the president seeks an expansive bill covering a variety of areas, Republicans insist on a tighter focus that addresses roads, transit and broadband.

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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