New Transportation Bill Introduced
Senators Jay Rockefeller IV (D-WV) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) have recently introduced a new transportation bill that would increase federal investment in rebuilding and expanding transportation infrastructure. The new bill, The American Infrastructure Fund Act of 2013, includes a $5 billion fund that would aid private, state, and regional investments in eligible transportation projects nationwide. Aspirations of this transportation bill would include the creation of more American jobs in addition to the benefits of infrastructure improvements.
Details of The American Infrastructure Fund Act of 2013 include the following:
- Establish a Department of Transportation (DOT) fund that will leverage federal dollars to provide incentive to private investments in transportation projects that boost the competitiveness of the American economy. This fund would be authorized $5 billion for 2014 and 2015.
- Use loans and loan guarantees for eligible projects. These projects would be evaluated objectively with clear guidelines to encourage investments from private, local, regional, and state entities.
- Create definitive guidelines for eligible projects that will include the improvements of marine ports, pipelines, airports, rail lines, bridges, highways, public transportation systems, and other projects related to the transportation industry. The funding also could also be opened up for other projects down the road such as energy, water, and telecommunications projects.
- Create a National Infrastructure Investment Grant program within the Department of Transportation (DOT) for $600 million throughout 2014 and 2015. This program would provide funds to improve or build new transportation infrastructure.
Goals of this new bill include similar concepts as previously proposed bills. This new transportation bill would focus on economic growth through creating jobs and improving the American transportation system to increase America’s competitiveness within the global economy. Unfortunately, previously proposed bills also ran into issues of funding, and that may happen again even though infrastructure improvements are greatly needed. For instance, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave U.S. infrastructure a “D” grade, and if the situation is not addressed soon the U.S. could face losses in total trade amounting to over $1 trillion.
Hopefully solutions and compromises will be made, and improvements in the area of transportation infrastructure will be seen. We will have to wait and see!