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Congress Passes Historic Transportation Authorization

Posted: 11/08/2021
Category: Public Policy

The Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) applauds the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684), which represents the single biggest transportation package in US history.  Late Friday night, the House of Representatives passed the bipartisan legislation that will provide $550 billion in new spending. 

The legislation will invest $106.9 billion in transit, the largest investment in public transit in U.S. history, and reauthorize the surface transportation program for the next five years.  This investment will increase the focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians.

“This historic legislation includes many programs and initiatives that will advance the principles and goals of Transportation Demand Management”, said David Straus, Executive Director of ACT  ”On behalf of ACT and the entire TDM community, I want to express our sincere thanks to Representative Jesus “Chuy” Garcia of Illinois for his steadfast support and successful efforts to include TDM provisions in the infrastructure bill, to Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio of Oregon and his staff for their tireless dedication to improving our transportation systems, the significant bipartisan group of U.S. Senators who negotiated this important agreement and voted for its passage, and to the Biden Administration for their leadership”

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was previously passed by the Senate with bipartisan support, now heads to the White House for the president’s signature. 

Following is a summary outline of provisions of particular interest to ACT members and the broader TDM community:

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

Highway Programs

  • Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG) Program & Transportation Alternatives (TA) Program

    • Expands STBG project eligibility to include “installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and vehicle-to-grid infrastructure” as well as “installation and deployment of current and emergency intelligent transportation technologies.”
  • Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP)

    • Expands HSIP project eligibility to include “construction or installation of road features, measures, and road designs to calm traffic and reduce vehicle speeds”, “installation or upgrades of traffic control devices for pedestrians and bicyclists”, “roadway improvements that provide separation between pedestrians or bicyclists and motor vehicles”, and “pedestrian security feature designed to slow or stop motor vehicle s”
  • Vulnerable Road User Research

    • Establishes research plan to prioritize roadway design research and develop safety countermeasures that minimize vulnerable road user fatalities and serious injuries while promoting bicycling and walking
  • Bicycle Transportation and Pedestrian Walkways

    • Expands use of STBG and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program funding to include shared micromobility transportation facilities
    • Includes both pedestrian and bicyclist accommodations if permitted when replacing or rehabilitating highway bridge decks
    • Allows the construction of micromobility transportation facilities to be deemed as “Federal share payable” highway projects
  • Safe Streets and Roads for All Grant Program

    • $6 billion from FY 2022 to FY 2026 ($1.2 billion per FY) in competitive grant funding
    • Establishes program for local governments, multi-jurisdiction entities and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to develop and carry out comprehensive safety plans, conduct planning, design, and development activities for projects and strategies identified in comprehensive safety action plans, or carry out projects and strategies identified in comprehensive safety action plans to prevent death and injury on roads and street (commonly known as “Vision Zero” or “Toward Zero Deaths” initiatives)

Environmental Programs

  • Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program

    • Adds shared micromobility including bikesharing and shared scooter systems as an eligible project
  • Congestion Relief Program - $250 million ($50 million per FY) in competitive grant funding

    • Establishes program for State and local governments as well as MPOs for projects in large, urbanized areas (more than 1 million in population) to advance innovative, integrated multimodal solutions to congestion relief with goal to reduce highway congestion, lower economic and environmental costs of congestion, and optimize existing highway capacity and usage of transit systems as alternatives
    • Uses of grant funding include – Planning, design, implementation, and construction projects to achieve goals including deployment and operation of mobility services, integrated congestion management systems, and high occupancy vehicle toll lanes, parking pricing or congestion pricing enforcement systems; and Incentive programs encouraging carpool or use of non-highway travel modes
  • Carbon Reduction Program - $6.4 billion distributed to States through formula allocation

    • Creates a program supporting reduction of transportation emissions with the following projects eligible –

      • Traffic monitoring, management, and control facilities or programs
      • Public transportation
      • Construction, planning, and design of pedestrian and bicycle on-road and off-road trail facilities
      • Advanced transportation and congestion management technology
      • Infrastructure-based intelligent transportation systems capital improvement
      • Vehicle to infrastructure communications equipment installation
      • Energy-efficient street lighting and traffic control devices replacement
      • Carbon reduction strategy development
    • States to develop carbon reduction strategy no later than 2 years after date of enactment identifying projects and strategies to reduce transportation and greenhouse gas emissions and quantifying total carbon emissions from construction of transportation facilities within the State
  • Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT) Program

    • $7.3 billion from FY 2022 to FY 2026 distributed to States through formula allocation
    • $1.4 billion from FY 2022 to FY 2026 in competitive grant funding
    • Establishes formula and competitive grant programs to help improve resiliency of transportation infrastructure against effects of climate change and ensure continuity or quick resumption of surface transportation operations after natural disasters

Research and Technology Programs

  •  Transportation Access Pilot Program

    • Establishes pilot program to “develop or procure accessibility data set and make data set available” to pilot program participants to (1) help improve transportation planning by measuring level of access by surface transportation modes to important destinations and disaggregating level of access by surface transportation modes by income, age, disability, and geographical location, and (2) assess changes in accessibility resulting from new transportation investments
  • Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grant Program

    • $500 million in competitive grant funding to support demonstration projects incorporating innovative transportation technologies or uses of data including coordinated automation, connected vehicles, and intelligent sensor-based infrastructure

      • Project applications evaluated based on extent projects would reduce congestions and delays, improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, improve access to jobs, education, and critical services, improve reliability of existing transportation systems, and improve energy efficiency or reduce pollution

Planning and Performance Programs

  • Travel Demand Data and Modeling

    • Directs Secretary of Transportation to carry out study on forecasted travel demand data versus actual observed travel, using findings to inform States and MPOs about impacts of transportation investments on travel demand and enhance States’ and MPOs’ capacity to forecast and track travel behavior

      • Study will “evaluate impact of transportation investments, including new roadway capacity, on travel behavior and travel demand, including public transportation ridership, induced highway travel, and congestion”
  • Increasing Safe and Accessible Transportation Options

    • Requires States to spend at least 2.5% of their transportation planning and research funding and MPOs to spend at least 2.5% of their metropolitan transportation planning funding to carry at least 1 of the following activities –

      • Adopt Complete Streets standards or policies
      • Develop Complete Streets prioritization plan
      • Develop transportation plans to improve and integrate active transportation networks and facilities as well as increase public transportation usage
      • Regional planning to address travel demand and capacity constraints
      • Develop transportation plans/policies supporting transit-oriented development
    • States or MPOs that have Complete Streets standards/policies in place and updated Complete Streets prioritization plan may opt out

Connectivity Programs

  • Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program

    • $1 billion from FY 2022 to FY 2026 in competitive grant funding

      • Grants in the form of capital construction, planning or technical assistance
    • Establishes program for State and local governments, MPOs, and nonprofit organizations to study feasibility and impacts of removing, retrofitting or mitigating existing transportation facilities that create barriers to mobility, access or economic development, and for construction funds to carry out projects to remove, retrofit, replace or mitigate a limited access highway, viaduct, or other principal arterials
  • Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program

    • $1 billion from FY 2022 to FY 2026 ($200 million per FY) in competitive grant funding
    • Creates a program for States and local government organizations (including MPOs), multicounty special district, and multistate group of governments to construct projects between communities with a cost of $15 million or more ($100,000 or more for planning and design grants) to provide safe and connected active transportation facilities in an active transportation network or spine (sidewalks, bikeways, and pedestrian and bicycle trails)

      • Examples of projects include construction of active transportation networks that connect people with public transportation, businesses, workplaces, schools, residences, recreation areas, and other community activity centers
      • Requires that request for applications for this grant be made within 30 days of funding being made available and selection of grant recipients be made within 150 days of funding being made available for the specific fiscal year

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