On June 4, the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee introduced the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act, a $547 billion, five-year surface transportation reauthorization bill for FY 2022 through FY 2026. The legislation, led by T&I Chair Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), represents a $242 billion increase over baseline levels and an approximately 11 percent increase over the Moving Forward Act, which passed the House last year. The measure, which echoes priorities set forth in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, provides $343 billion for roads, bridges and safety; $109 billion for transit; and $95 billion for passenger and freight rail.
Notable provisions important to counties in the INVEST in America Act include:
Roads, Bridges and Safety
- Increases the off-system bridge set-aside to 20 percent, resulting in $1 billion investment annually in off-system bridges
- Increases the percent of Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds that are suballocated based on population from 55 to 60 percent
- Allows up to 15 percent of STP funds suballocated to rural areas to be expended on local roads and rural minor collectors
- Establishes several funding streams for counties to improve safety, address congestion, respond to climate impacts and enhance disaster resiliency
- Provides $1 billion for direct allocations to designated MPOs to advance locally selected projects
- Establishes a Rebuild Rural Bridges from program for which counties are eligible to apply
- Provides for an up to 100 percent suballocation for the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) and provides a 10 percent set-aside for local governments to carry out eligible projects
- Increases funding for rural transit by more than 50 percent in the first year and sets aside $50 million per year for rural persistent poverty communities
- Streamlines the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program to expedite project delivery and lower costs for transit agencies
- Establishes new programs for counties to improve transit ridership, extend ridership to underserved areas and increase transit safety
- Amends the urban formula grant to be based on vehicles per hour during peak service in the highest 25 percent of routes by ridership
Passenger and Freight Rail
- Provides $32 billion for Amtrak
- Establishes a new, standalone railway crossing program and allows these funds to be used toward the cost of projects selected for the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program
- Establishes a new competitive Passenger Rail Improvement, Modernization and Expansion (PRIME) grant program to improve mobility, operational performance or growth of high-speed or intercity passenger rail corridors for which counties are eligible to apply
- Expands CRISI grant eligibility to commuter rail, and establishes a 25 percent set aside for projects over $100 million
- Establishes a Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Separation grant program to build or improve grad crossing separations, for which counties are eligible to apply
The T&I Committee plans to mark-up the legislation on Wednesday, June 9. Unlike the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s highway reauthorization bill, this legislation, which was drafted solely by Committee Democrats, is unlikely to receive Republican support.
However, a surface transportation authorization requires 60 votes to pass in the Senate – meaning that Democrats will need to reach a compromise with Republicans in order to get a reauthorization over the finish line before the current legislation expires on September 30 or extend the current law for a second time.
A full analysis of the T&I legislation and its potential impact on counties will be available soon.