On 30 March US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx sent to Congress a six-year, USD478bn transportation reauthorisation bill designed to improve the nation’s “crumbling infrastructure.”
The bill, a revised version of President Obama’s GROW America Act, would provide funding certainty to authorities seeking to pursue development and upgrade projects for roads, bridges, rail and urban transit networks.
As lawmakers try to fund transportation beyond the May 31 deadline for expiration of the current bill, the act provides Congress with the option of increasing investment in surface transportation by 45% and supporting millions of new jobs in addressing the USD86bn repairs backlog estimated in the recent Beyond Traffic study prepared by the US Department of Transportation.
“All over the country, I hear the same account: the need to repair and expand our surface transportation system has never been greater, and yet federal transportation funding has never been in such short supply,” Foxx said in a press release. On offering funding certainty for many States seeking to modernise and improve their public transportation networks, he added: “This is an opportunity to break away from ten years of flat funding, not to mention these past six years in which Congress has funded transportation by passing 32 short-term measures.”
The ambitious funding plan would primarily receive its funding from a scheme of taxation repatriation, with companies required to bring overseas earnings back to the US at a taxation rate of 14%, adding up to an expected USD238bn according to the US Department of Transportation.
Specifically, the bill would increase transit funding by 76%; streamline the existing project permit process; increase “innovative financing” by strengthening the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) and Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan programmes, by making more Private Activity Bonds (PABS) available, and by nearly doubling funding for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant programme; and provide more funding to Metropolitan planning organisations.