FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 28, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC - A critical milestone was reached today when House and Senate leaders unveiled a compromise version of the surface transportation reauthorization bill which has been the topic of intense negotiations. Congressional leaders will be working to pass the final bill through both the House and Senate by the end of this week before Congress adjourns for the July 4th recess. The Conference Report merges the Senate-passed bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), with numerous provisions from the House T&I Committee proposal. Read the Conference Report bill text here and the Joint Explanatory Statement here.
The conference report would provide funding of $101 billion from the Highway Trust Fund over the next two fiscal years (FY2013 and 2014), with the assumption that $4.7 billion will be appropriated from the General Fund over the same time period in order to maintain current funding levels plus a 1.4 percent inflation increase each year. General Fund revenues would be offset by adjustments to pension interest rates and an increase in Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation premiums. The bill also includes funding for provisions that are part of the broader legislative package like flood insurance and hazmat safety, while extending student loans and directing funding from fines related to the BP oil spill. Several of the more contentious provisions such as approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and coal ash regulatory relief were removed in exchange for aggressive environmental streamlining language sought by the House.
The bill consolidates nearly 100 programs, eliminates earmarks, and provides states with more spending flexibility including loosening requirements that states spend money on bike paths, pedestrian projects and other transportation enhancements or ‘alternatives’. The bill also expedites project delivery, updates the statewide and metropolitan planning process, ensures that ITS technologies are eligible for funding within every major formula program, and establishes a performance management process to improve accountability in areas including highway condition and performance, safety, congestion and air quality, and freight movement.
Intelligent Transportation Systems – At the urging of ITS America, House and Senate negotiators restored funding for the ITS research program from $50 million (which was in the original Senate bill) to $100 million per year, ensuring that the U.S. Department of Transportation and its partners can continue advancing the Connected Vehicle program and other vital ITS research efforts. However, the conference committee eliminated the System Operations and ITS Deployment Grant Program which would have provided $100 million over two years for a competitive grant program to accelerate the deployment of ITS technologies and strategies. Instead, the bill creates a broader $60 million per year Technology and Innovation Deployment program to accelerate the adoption of innovative technologies across the transportation system through competitive grants. The bill would also transfer management of the federal ITS program, University Transportation Centers, and Bureau of Transportation Statistics from the Research and Innovative Technology Administration to the Federal Highway Administration. Update: ***This provision was removed from the final conference report prior to the final vote.
Statewide and Metropolitan Planning – The bill updates the statewide and metropolitan planning process to promote efficient system management and operations and enhance the integration and connectively of the transportation system, in addition to traditional requirements that States and metropolitan areas consider projects and strategies that promote economic vitality, safety, security, accessibility, environmental sustainability and system preservation.
National Goals and Performance Measures – In a new declaration of policy, the legislation states that “Performance management will transform the Federal-aid highway program and provide a means to the most efficient investment of Federal transportation funds by refocusing on national transportation goals, increasing the accountability and transparency of the Federal-aid highway program, and improving project decision making through performance-based planning and programming.” Accordingly, the bill categorizes the following seven goals as being in the national interest:
- Safety: To achieve a significant reduction in traffic fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads;
- Infrastructure Condition: To maintain the highway infrastructure asset system in a state of good repair;
- Congestion Reduction: To achieve a significant reduction in congestion on the National Highway System;
- System Reliability: To improve the efficiency of the surface transportation system;
- Freight Movement and Economic Vitality: To improve the national freight network, strengthen the ability of rural communities to access national and international trade markets, and support regional economic development;
- Environmental Sustainability: To enhance the performance of the transportation system while protecting and enhancing the natural environment; and
- Reduced Project Delivery Delays: To reduce project costs, promote jobs and the economy, and expedite the movement of people and goods by accelerating project completion through eliminating delays in the project development and delivery process, including reducing regulatory burdens and improving agencies’ work practices.
How It Works: Within 18 months of enactment, the Secretary is required to promulgate a rulemaking establishing performance standards and measures for each of the categories above, in consultation with State DOTs, metropolitan planning organizations and other stakeholders. The Secretary shall establish minimum standards for States to use in developing and operating bridge and pavement management systems; measures for States to use in assessing pavement and bridge condition as well as the performance of the Interstate System and National Highway System; and the data elements that are needed to collect and maintain standardized data to carry out a performance-based approach. In addition, the Secretary is directed to establish measures for States to use when assessing traffic fatalities and serious injuries, traffic congestion, on-road mobile source emissions, and freight movement on the Interstate System. Within one year of the final rulemaking, each State is required to set performance targets that reflect the measures identified above, providing different performance targets for urbanized and rural areas where appropriate.
Innovative Project Delivery – The bill declares it in the national interest to promote the use of innovative technologies and practices that increase the efficiency of construction of, improve the safety of, and extend the service life of highways and bridges, including “state-of-the-art intelligent transportation system technologies, elevated performance standards, and new highway construction business practices that improve highway safety and quality, accelerate project delivery, and reduce congestion related to highway construction.” As the discretion of the states, the Federal share for a project, program, or activity carried out under this section may be up to 100 percent as long as program requirements are met.
America Fast Forward Financing Initiative – The TIFIA Loan Program is expanded from the current $122 million to $750 million in FY 2013 and $1 billion in FY 2014, with a new master credit agreement provision allowing applicants to receive funding for a program of projects. The bill establishes a threshold of $15 million for ITS projects to be considered for credit assistance under the program.
Tolling – Federal funding may be used for construction, rehabilitation or replacement of a tolled highway, bridge and tunnel facility as long as the number of toll-free non-high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes after construction is not less than the number of toll-free non-HOV lanes before construction. Funding may also be used to convert HOV lanes to high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes subject to the stipulations below. While toll facilities may be privately owned, the public authority with jurisdiction over the facility maintains responsibility for complying with all applicable requirements of the legislation, including a list of approved uses of toll revenue. If the toll facility is subject to a public-private partnership agreement, toll revenue may be used to provide a reasonable return on investment of any private person financing the project, as determined by the State or interstate compact of States concerned, in addition to any costs necessary for the improvement and proper operation and maintenance of the facility.
Conversion of HOV Lanes and Interoperability Requirements – A public authority with jurisdiction over HOV lanes on the Interstate System may convert the facility in order to levy tolls on non-high occupancy vehicles if the public authority consults with the respective metropolitan planning organization for projects in metropolitan areas; develops, manages, and maintains a system that will automatically collect the toll; and establishes policies and procedures to manage demand by varying the toll amount that is charged and to enforce sanctions for violations. No less than 4 years after the bill’s enactment, all toll facilities on Federal-aid highways shall implement technologies or business practices that provide for the interoperability of electronic toll collection.
Formula Programs – The bill consolidates the core highway formula programs into the following five new or modified programs:
- The National Highway Performance Program would consolidate the National Highway System, Interstate Maintenance, and the Highway Bridge programs into a new program focused on improving the condition and performance of the National Highway System; constructing new facilities on the National Highway System; and ensuring that investments of Federal-aid funds are used to achieve performance targets established by States as part of their new asset management plans. Among the numerous eligible expenditures are infrastructure-based ITS capital improvements; capital and operating costs for traffic and traveler information monitoring, management, and control facilities; and development and implementation of State asset management plans for the National Highway System including data collection, maintenance, and integration and the costs associated with licensing software and equipment required for risk-based asset management and performance-based management.
- The Surface Transportation Program would fund highway construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, resurfacing, restoration, preservation, and operational improvements, and is modified to include off-system bridges and numerous other programs from ferry terminals to truck parking facilities. Eligible expenditures include projects and strategies to support congestion pricing including electronic toll collection and travel demand management projects; carpool projects; and construction and operational improvements for qualified minor collectors, particularly those that improve regional traffic flow and are more cost-effective than improvements to the Federal-aid highway.
- A new National Freight Policy encourages investment in ITS technologies and other strategies to improve freight efficiency by adjusting the Federal share to 95 percent for projects on the Interstate System and 90 percent for any other project if the Secretary certifies that the project meets program requirements. The Secretary is also directed to encourage States to develop freight plans that include consideration of innovative technologies and operational strategies, including intelligent transportation systems, as well as other measures to improve the safety and efficiency of freight movement.
- The Highway Safety Improvement Program is similar to the current highway safety program. States are required to develop data-driven strategic highway safety plans under the legislation, incorporating performance targets for fatalities and serious injuries. There are numerous eligible expenditures under this program, with just a few being intersection safety improvements, emergency vehicle preemption systems, traffic control or warning devices at high-risk locations, construction and operational improvements on high risk rural roads, and interoperable emergency communications equipment, operational activities, or traffic enforcement relating to work zone safety.
- The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program remains largely unchanged, providing funding eligibility for a range of congestion mitigation and air quality projects including intelligent transportation systems. Projects that improve incident and emergency response or improve mobility, such as through real-time traffic, transit, and multimodal traveler information, are specifically listed in the program eligibilities, as are projects that shift traffic demand to nonpeak hours or other transportation modes, increase vehicle occupancy rates, or otherwise reduce demand for roads through telecommuting, ridesharing, carsharing, pricing, or other means.
The conference report includes numerous other provisions that are worth reading, including Jason’s Law which provides funding for ITS projects that improve commercial vehicle parking. It also updates the definition of Transportation Systems Management and Operations in the U.S. Code to be more inclusive of the latest ITS applications; and encourages investment in transit signal priority and other transit ITS applications in the public transportation title.
ITS America Government Affairs will provide additional information and analysis as it becomes available. For more information, contact: