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Transportation Bill, Full Text

Transportation Bill, Full Text

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Published by: skiftnews on Jun 28, 2012
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1Joint Explanatory Statement of the Committee of the ConferenceThe managers on the part of the Senate and the House at the conference on thedisagreeing votes of the two Houses on the amendment of the Senate to the bill ( H.R. 4348), to provide an extension of Federal-aid highway, highway safety, motor carrier safety, transit, andother programs funded out of the Highway Trust Fund pending enactment of a multiyear lawreauthorizing such programs, and for other purposes, submit the following joint statement to theHouse and the Senate in explanation of the effect of the action agreed upon by the managers andrecommended in the accompanying conference report:The House recedes from its disagreement to the amendment of the Senate to the text of the billand agrees to the same with an amendment.A summary of the bill agreed to in conference is set forth below:Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21
st
Century (MAP-21) replaces the previousauthorization, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), that expired on September 30, 2009 and which has been continued witha series of short-term extensions. MAP-21 will modernize and reform our current transportationsystem to help create jobs, accelerate economic recovery, and build the foundation for long-term prosperity. This conference report makes a number of necessary changes in the Federal-aidhighway program structure to increase State flexibility and better serve the American people.DIVISION A—FEDERAL-AID HIGHWAYS AND HIGHWAY SAFETY CONSTRUCTIONPROGRAMS
Highway Funding Levels
 The conference report provides funding for the federal-aid highway program through fiscal 2014at current funding levels with a small inflationary adjustment.
Program Consolidation
The Senate and the House both sought to consolidate the number of programs in the federal-aidhighway program to focus priorities and resources on key national goals. The conference reportconsolidates the number of highway programs by two-thirds. The elimination of dozens of  programs makes more resources available to States and metropolitan areas to invest in their mostcritical needs to improve the condition and performance of their transportation system.
Project Delivery
 The conference report combined provisions from the House and Senate bills focusing on theshared priority of accelerating project delivery. It maintains the vast majority of projectacceleration provisions from S. 1813 and provisions from the House bill in addition to new
 
2 provisions that will maintain substantive environment and public health protections whilestreamlining the creation and use of documents and environmental reviews, enhancing efficiencyand accountability in the project delivery process.The conference report adopts and modifies provisions from the House bill directing the Secretaryto designate, through rulemaking, certain activities as categorical exclusions under the NationalEnvironmental Policy Act. The Secretary is directed to designate the repair or reconstruction of a road, highway, or bridge damaged by a declared emergency or disaster as a categoricalexclusion, if the repair or reconstruction project is in the same location and with the samespecifications as the original project and is commenced within two years of the declaration of emergency or disaster. The Secretary is also directed to designate any project within the existingoperational right-of-way as a categorical exclusion and defines the term “operational right-of-way”. Additionally, the Secretary is directed to designate projects receiving limited Federalassistance as a categorical exclusion. The categorical exclusion applies to any project thatreceives less than $5,000,000 in Federal funds and any project with a total estimated cost of notmore than $30,000,000 receiving Federal funds comprising less than 15 percent of the totalestimated project costs
Performance measures
The nation’s surface transportation programs have not provided sufficient accountability for howtax dollars are being spent on transportation projects and would benefit from a greater focus onkey national priorities. The conference report focuses the highway program on key outcomes,such as reducing fatalities, improving road and bridge conditions, reducing congestion,increasing system reliability, and improving freight movement and economic vitality.
Focus on the National Highway System
The conference report combines the old interstate maintenance program into a new programcalled the National Highway Performance Program to address both the interstate system as wellas an extended National Highway System. It is these roads that are most critical to our economicvitality, and the conference report ensures the roads and bridges that make up this system will be better maintained.
 Freight Policy
A top priority of the nation’s transportation system should be the safe and efficient movement of goods. The nation’s economic health is reliant upon a transportation system that provides for reliable and timely goods movement.This conference report establishes policies to improve freight movement. It calls for thedevelopment of a National Freight Strategic Plan, encourages state freight plans and advisorycommittees, and provides incentives for states that fund projects to improve freight movement.
 
3
America Fast Forward
Given our massive investment needs and the limited funding available, we need to find ways to better leverage Federal dollars by encouraging additional non-Federal investment and helping toaccelerate the benefits of State and locally funded transportation projects.This conference report builds upon the success of the TIFIA program to help communitiesleverage their transportation resources and stretch Federal dollars further than they have beenstretched before. The conference report modifies the TIFIA program by increasing funding for the program to $1 billion per year, by increasing the maximum share of project costs from33 percent to 49 percent, by allowing TIFIA to be used to support a related set of projects, and by setting aside funding for projects in rural areas at more favorable terms.
Gulf Coast Restoration
The conference report modifies a Senate provision related to Gulf Coast restoration known as theResources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourism Opportunities and Revived Economies of theGulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act). The provision establishes the Gulf CoastRestoration Trust Fund and places in the Trust Fund 80% of all civil penalties paid byresponsible parties in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Funding may be used toinvest in projects and activities to restore the long-term health of the coastal ecosystem and localeconomies in the Gulf Coast Region, which includes the states of Mississippi, Louisiana,Alabama, Florida, and Texas. A portion of the funds will be allocated directly and equally to thefive Gulf Coast states for ecological and economic recovery along the coast. A portion will be provided to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council established by the bill to develop andfund a comprehensive plan for the restoration of Gulf Coast ecosystems. A portion will beallocated among the states using an impact-based formula to implement state plans that have been approved by the Council. Finally, a portion of the fines will be allocated to a Gulf Coastecosystem restoration, science, observation, monitoring and technology program and for grantsto nongovernmental entities for the establishment of Gulf Coast centers of excellence.
Harbor Maintenance
The Conference report modifies a Senate provision highlighting the significance of the nation’s ports for efficient movement of goods and products and the need for increased investment in themaintenance of these ports to promote the economic competiveness of the United States. The provision states the Sense of Congress that the Administration should request and the Congressshould fully expend each year all of the revenues collected in the Harbor Maintenance TrustFund (HMTF) for the operation and maintenance of the nation’s federally maintained ports. The provision also expresses the importance of protecting other critical Army Corps programs,including inland navigation, flood and coastal storm protection, and ecosystem restoration, fromfunding reductions.

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