Better Roads Staff
Transportation Highlights from the Bill
Transportation – The bill includes $16.7 billion for the Department of Transportation for fiscal year 2012, which is $3 billion above last year’s level and $15.8 billion below the President’s request.
Highways – The bill provides $27.7 billion for the Federal Highway program – the highest amount supportable by the Highway Trust Fund for fiscal year 2012. The Committee is prepared to support a higher Highway Trust Fund spending level, should a new, multi-year authorization bill be enacted. The bill does not contain a rescission of highway contract authority from the states.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – Included in the legislation is $12.6 billion for the FAA, an increase of $233 million over last year and $485 million below the President’s request. The bill fully funds the FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), allowing the FAA to move forward with the next step in modernizing the nation’s air control and airport system, which will help ease congestion and reduce delays for travelers in U.S. airspace.
Rail – The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is funded at $1.3 billion, which is $7 billion below the President’s request and $36 million above last year’s level. Of this amount, $1.1 billion is targeted to Amtrak, primarily for capital improvements to the nation’s rail lines. The bill also includes policy reforms for Amtrak, such as requiring overtime limits on Amtrak employees to reduce unnecessary costs, and reinstates a provision that prohibits federal funding for routes where Amtrak offers a discount of 50 percent or more off normal, peak fares. In addition, the bill does not include funding for High-Speed Rail or Intercity Passenger Rail Service.
Transit – The bill contains a total of $1.8 billion for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), which is $1.9 billion below the President’s request and an increase of $169 million over last year. The legislation also provides $5.2 billion in state and local bus grants – the amount estimated to be available from the Mass Transit Account (trust fund) for fiscal year 2012. The Committee is prepared to support a higher formula bus spending level should a new, multi-year authorization bill be enacted. The legislation also limits transit capital investments – only funding “Small Starts” projects and those projects that have signed Full-Funding Grant Agreements with the FTA prior to Nov. 1, 2011. The legislation also includes language that prohibits new Full-Funding Grant Agreements if the project is more than 50-percent federally funded.
Safety – The legislation contains funding for the various transportation safety programs and agencies within the Department of Transportation. This includes: $731.1 million in both mandatory and discretionary funding for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) – a decrease of $65.4 million from last year; $529.7 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – a decrease of $25.4 million from last year; and $182.9 million for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration – a decrease of $13.2 million from last year.