May 26, 2021

Duckworth Secures Critical Illinois Priorities in Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), applauded the inclusion of several of her provisions that will help Illinois in the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021 that passed the EPW Committee today. These provisions include Duckworth’s new congestion relief grant program, Duckworth’s TIFIA for Airports Act to expand investments in airport modernization projects, incentives for states to develop a voluntary human capital plan, Duckworth’s new Transparency in Planning Pilot Program and authorization for an Autonomous Vehicles Transportation Impacts Study.

“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 chronic highway congestion, declining airport infrastructure and lack of transparency in transportation planning decisions,” 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 and tackle the climate crisis while also helping Illinois drivers and passengers alike get to their destinations safely and efficiently.”  

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

  • Reduce chronic congestion by providing funding to states and local governments to advance innovative, integrated and multimodal solutions in the most congested metropolitan areas of the U.S.
    • The program provides $250 million in dedicated funding to states and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) for eligible projects in major metropolitan areas and is closely aligned with a new $6.4 billion carbon reduction program included in the bill to reduce transportation emissions. 
  • Enhance airport modernization investments by extending the Transportation and Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) credit assistance program to major U.S. airport projects (runways and terminals) to improve and accelerate project delivery.
    • This provision is based on the bipartisan legislation introduced by Duckworth, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), John Garamendi (D-CA-03) and Brian Babin (R-TX-36) earlier this month.
    • The provision also extends important workforce protections to TIFIA-financed airport projects, including Davis-Bacon and Buy America coverage.
  • Encourage states to think strategically about their transportation workforce needs by including voluntary human capital planning in a state’s Long Term Transportation Plan.
    • States that develop a human capital plan under this section must make it publicly available and update the plan at least once every 5 years.
  • Pull back the curtain on project selection decisions by establishing a Transparency in Planning Pilot Program that supports data-driven approaches to transportation planning by providing funds for states and MPOs to develop and implement a publicly accessible, transparent prioritization process to evaluate and select projects.
    • This program would help incentivize the prioritization of projects that maximize value for taxpayers through increased transparency, efficient investments and expanding on the best practices of states.
  • Authorize an Autonomous Vehicle Transportation Impacts Study in which the U.S. Transportation Secretary would coordinate with relevant federal agencies to study the policy implications of autonomous vehicles for our transportation systems, such as impacts on traffic, congestion and pollution reduction, and energy consumption.
  • Cutting through red tape to expedite grade crossing and viaduct repairs by eliminating the local cost share for Railway-Highway Crossing Program projects and increasing the amount of funds state can use to survey and inspect viaducts and crossings.

Duckworth also supported several Committee-included provisions that would:

  • Address the backlog of bridge repair and rehab projects by creating a new $3 billion Bridge Investment Program.
  • Improve equity and connectedness in our transportation systems through a new Reconnecting Communities Program to retrofit existing highways that were built through neighborhoods and created a barrier to mobility and economic development.
  • Reduce transportation emissions and improve air quality by creating a Carbon Reduction Formula Program that would provide $6.4 billion for transportation electrification and EV charging, public transportation, infrastructure for bicycling and walking, intelligent transportation systems (ITS), diesel engine retrofits and port electrification.
  • Protect communities from severe storms by investing $7.4 billion in a new resiliency formula program.  
  • Expand the Electric Vehicle (EV) charging network by establishing a new grant program that also includes hydrogen, natural gas and propane fueling infrastructure along designated alternative fuel corridors, and “community charging” opportunities prioritized for rural areas, low- moderate-income neighborhoods, and communities with low ratios of private parking or high ratios of multiunit dwellings.

The bill now moves to the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation (CST) Committee, where Duckworth will work to include important rail, trucking and safety-focused provisions.