A look at DOT's #GROWAMERICA legislative proposal

Posted by mmcmullan on 04/29/2014

We've got some smart cookies here at the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM). One of them, Brian Lombardozzi, has decided to drop in to give us some background on the Department of Transportation’s surface transportation legislative proposal. Take it away, Brian:

This morning the U.S. Department of Transportation sent (DOT) its surface transportation legislative proposal to Congress. 

According to DOT:

The Generating Renewal, Opportunity, and Work with Accelerated Mobility, Efficiency, and Rebuilding of Infrastructure and Communities throughout America Act, or GROW AMERICA Act, is a $302 billion, four year transportation reauthorization proposal that provides increased and stable funding for our Nation’s highways, bridges, transit, and rail systems. 

The Obama administration’s proposal includes $87 billion to shore up the balances in the Highway Trust Fund and aims to provide states and local governments with the certainty needed to effectively plan and start construction on projects that will support millions of good paying jobs. To do so, it includes:

  • $199 billion to invest in our nation’s highway system and road safety;
  • $72 billion to invest in transit systems and expand transportation options; and
  • Policy reforms to (1) incentivize improved regional coordination by Metropolitan Planning Organizations and (2) strengthen local decision-making in allocating federal funding.

Another goal of DOT’s proposal is to enable more “transformative transportation projects” that will improve the nation’s global competitiveness and mobility in communities across the country. Here are a few more specifics:

  • $245 million for workforce development programs to enhance the size, diversity, and skills of our nation’s construction and transportation workforce through collaborative partnerships with the U.S. Department of Labor, States, and non-governmental organizations;
  • $10 billion for a multi-modal freight program that will support America’s exports and trade; and
  • $19 billion in dedicated funding for rail programs with a focus on improving the connections between key regional city pairs and high traffic corridors throughout the country.

The administration is proposing a number of measures to ensure that the American public is getting most out of federal transportation infrastructure investments, such as:

  • Providing $5 billion over four years -- an increase of more than 100 percent -- for the highly successfully TIGER competitive grant program, as well as $4 billion embedded in the highway and transit requests for a competitive grant program called Fixing and Accelerating Surface Transportation (FAST) to build on recent efforts to expedite project approval timelines;
  • Strengthening performance incentives to maintain safety and conditions of good repair, and expanding research and technology activities in order to improve the productivity of our transportation systems; and
  • Dedicating $4 billion to attract private investment in transportation infrastructure via leveraging of the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), strengthening the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program, and raising the cap of Private Activity Bonds (PABs).

The administration plans to fund this proposal by supplementing current revenues with $150 billion in one- time transition revenue from pro-growth business tax reform:

This amount is sufficient to not only fill the current funding gap in the Highway Trust Fund, but increase surface transportation investment over current authorized levels by nearly $90 billion over the next four years.

You can read a section by section analysis of it here, or visit the US DOT site to learn about how GROW AMERICA addresses 12 critical transportation needs.

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