June 16, 2021

Duckworth Secures Critical Illinois Priorities in Commerce-Passed Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill


Duckworth provisions would establish a permanent disability advocate seat on the Amtrak Board of Directors and increase accessibility at Amtrak stations

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a member of the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation (CST) Committee, highlighted the inclusion of several of her provisions that will help Illinois in the Surface Transportation Investment Act of 2021 that passed the CST Committee today. In addition to securing provisions that would establish a permanent disability advocate on Amtrak’s Board of Directors and direct Amtrak to spend at least $250 million over 5 years on accessibility upgrades to stations, Duckworth also secured the inclusion of key components of the Protecting Roadside First Responders Act, which was introduced by Duckworth and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).

“I’m proud to have secured several provisions throughout this bill to help address some of the most pressing challenges facing transportation systems in Illinois and across the country, including lack of accessibility in our transportation systems and first responder roadside deaths,” Duckworth said. “I’ll continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the Senate to advance this critical legislation that would modernize our aging transportation infrastructure while also helping Illinois drivers and passengers alike get to their destinations safely and efficiently.”  

Key Duckworth provision included in today’s Committee-passed legislation would:

  • Establish a permanent seat on the Amtrak Board of Directors for a disability advocate who has a demonstrated history of, or experience with, accessibility, mobility, and inclusive transportation in passenger rail or commuter rail.
  • Make Amtrak stations more accessible by requiring Amtrak to spend at least $250 million over 5 years ($50 million per year) on accessibility upgrades to stations across its system. This provision is in line with the goals of Duckworth’s All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP) Act of 2021
  • Create a Rail Research and Development Center of Excellence to advance research and development that improves the safety, efficiency and reliability of passenger and freight rail transportation.
  • Authorize a review of “move over” and “slow down” laws by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) that would study state and federal efforts to improve awareness and enforcement of laws that require vehicles to change lanes or slow down when approaching an emergency vehicle on the roadside.
  • Invest in commercial vehicle safety inspection training and support by establishing a grant program for nonprofit organizations to provide training to non-federal employees (such as state highway troopers) who conduct commercial motor vehicle enforcement activities and to develop related training materials.
  • Help prevent roadside deaths by requiring the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, in coordination with relevant federal agencies, to study the broader policy implications of autonomous vehicles for our transportation systems, such as impacts on traffic congestion and pollution reduction and energy consumption.
  • Support crash avoidance technologies by requiring the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to establish automatic emergency braking (AEB) standards and requirements for heavy duty commercial motor vehicles (>10,000 lbs) and requires AEB to be installed on those vehicles. The provision would also help ensure that all new passenger motor vehicles be equipped with two crash avoidance technologies – forward collision warning and AEB systems, and lane departure and lane keeping assist systems.

Duckworth also supported other Committee-included provisions that would:

  • Strengthen Underride Protection by requiring DOT to strengthen rear underride guard standards and to conduct additional research on the design and development of rear impact guards to prevent crashes at higher speeds. The provision also creates an Advisory Committee on Underride Protection and requires DOT to amend regulations on minimum periodic inspection standards and reports to include rear impact guards and rear end protection. 
  • Help protect against drunk driving by including a modified version of U.S. Senator Ben Ray Lujan’s RIDE Act that would require all new passenger motor vehicles to be equipped with advanced drunk driving prevention technology that can passively monitor and accurately detect that a driver is impaired.

This bill also invests $28 billion in multi-modal and freight, $36 billion in rail, $13 billion in safety and $1 billion in research.