By Dean Franks, senior vice president for congressional relations, ARTBA
The House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Dec. 5 explored U.S. goods movement, with many members and witnesses calling for greater investment in all modes that transport freight. The hearing, entitled “Where’s My Stuff? Examining the Economic, Environmental, and Societal Impacts of Freight Transportation,” was T&I’s latest look at issues related to the reauthorization of the FAST Act.
While previous surface transportation bills focused mostly on highway and public transit infrastructure, the FAST Act included a rail component, including Amtrak reauthorization. It was clear at the hearing that T&I leadership intends to do the same in the next bill, expected to be revealed in early 2020.
At the hearing, T&I members and witnesses discussed two freight programs created as part of the FAST Act and funded via the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). Lawmakers included provisions that allowed for 10 percent of the funding allocated for these programs to be used for non-highway and transit projects. While ARTBA supports infrastructure improvements for projects like rail and ports, the association believes HTF dollars should only be used for highway and public transportation capital projects and supporting programs.
The hearing made clear that this fight for HTF resources will continue in the next bill as some T&I members and industry representatives advocate to increase the percentage allowed for multi-modal projects.
ARTBA will continue to push for passage of a new, robustly-funded surface transportation law early in 2020, well before the Sept. 30 expiration of the FAST Act.