Duckworth Secures Important 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 America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019 that passed the EPW Committee today. This critical legislation includes important provisions to improve safety, rebuild aging roads and bridges, reduce congestion, spur innovation and address climate change. The bill also provides a significant increase in funding to enable state and local transportation agencies to address their backlog of important transportation improvements.
“I’m proud to have secured provisions that will enhance the safety of Illinois roadways, save drivers time and money and create jobs across the state by strategically investing in transportation infrastructure,” Duckworth said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to advance this legislation that will help improve Department of Transportation programs, reduce congestion, promote efficient freight movement and safeguard our environment.”
Key Duckworth provisions included in today’s Committee-passed legislation would:
- Provide $200 million to address roadway congestion. The $200 million in dedicated funding would help state and local governments reduce burdensome traffic in the most congested metropolitan areas of the U.S., like Chicago. This Duckworth provision will help advance innovative, integrated, and multimodal solutions to the growing challenge of urban congestion.
- Reinforce public trust in taxpayer-funded infrastructure decisions. This Duckworth provision would help ensure the prioritization of transportation projects that maximize value to local communities through increased transparency, efficient investments and expanding on the best practices of states and regions. The provision would establish a pilot program to support data-driven approaches to transportation planning by providing funds for selected States and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to develop and implement a publicly accessible, transparent prioritization process to evaluate and select projects.
- Require the study of autonomous vehicles’ (AVs) policy implications and challenges. Relevant federal agencies would be required to study the policy implications and challenges presented to our transportation systems by AVs, such as impacts on traffic, mobility and safety, under this Duckworth provision. The provision also pushes decision-makers to confront the opportunities and challenges Illinois communities will inevitably face as autonomous technologies continue to mature.
- Extend TIFIA credit assistance to major U.S. airport projects. This Duckworth provision would improve and accelerate project delivery by providing states and municipalities with access to cheaper capital for major airport projects that extend taxpayer dollars and create more jobs and economic benefits.
- Encourage states to plan for their immediate- and long-term transportation-related personnel and workforce needs. Senator Duckworth included this provision in the Committee-passed bill to ensure that states have the right people in the right transportation agency positions to negotiate complex public-private partnership agreements and stave off a loss of “institutional memory” as baby boomers continue to retire.
Duckworth also supported several Committee-included provisions that would:
- Establish a new competitive bridge investment program to enable states and cities to repair and replace their poor condition bridges with dedicated funding from the Highway Trust Fund.
- Increase funding for the popular INFRA Grant program by more than $1 billion and raises the cap on multimodal freight projects to 30 percent of total program funding.
- Expand the National Highway Freight Program eligibility to include lock and dam modernization on the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.
- Provide discretionary grant funding to build out electric vehicle charging infrastructure, hydrogen fueling infrastructure and natural gas fueling infrastructure along designated corridors.
The bill now moves to the U.S. Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee, where Senator Duckworth is the Ranking Member on the Transportation and Safety Subcommittee and will lead the effort to include important rail, trucking and safety-focused provisions.
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