Infrastructure bill delivers new programs for highways, but HTF solution stuck in traffic – Bill in Brief - Debtwire

Infrastructure bill delivers new programs for highways, but HTF solution stuck in traffic – Bill in Brief

28 October 2021 - 4:50 am

The American Society for Civil Engineers estimates that 43% of our public roadways are in poor or mediocre condition. To improve the situation, parts of the USD 1trn Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) aim to increase core highway formula programs to fund upgrades and repairs the nation’s highways and bridges over the next five fiscal years (FY22-FY26).
The one trouble spot not addressed was the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), which has two separate accounts – highways and mass transit. The HTF is funded primarily by fuel taxes. The last increase in the fuel tax rate was in 1993. Since FY08 and through FY21, lawmakers have enacted legislation transferring USD 157bn—mostly from the Treasury’s general fund—to the HTF.
Federal-Aid Highway Program
Key Programs
Funding for FY22-FY26
(USD bn)
Formula Programs
National Highway Performance Program
Supports improvement of the condition and performance of the national highway system.
Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (STBGP) – excludes Transportation Alternative Setaside
Promotes flexibility in state and local transportation decisions and provides flexible funding to best address state and local transportation needs.
Bridge Formula Program
For states and tribal governments to repair and rebuild bridges in poor condition. Also helps counties and local governments that struggle to pay for costly bridge projects.
Highway Safety Improvement Program
to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads, including non-state-owned public roads and roads on tribal lands.
Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program
Establish a circuit rider program to provide assistance to small and medium POTWs that require a state revolving loan recipient to demonstrate it has studied and evaluated the cost and effectiveness of their proposed project.
Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation Formula Program (PROTECT)
For resilience improvements at the state and municipal levels.
STBGP Transportation Alternative Program
Smaller-scale transportation projects such as pedestrian and bicycle facilities, recreational trails, safe routes to school projects, community improvements such as historic preservation and vegetation management, and environmental mitigation related to stormwater and habitat connectivity.
National Highway Freight Program
Improve the efficient movement of freight on the national highway freight network.
Carbon Reduction Program
New program for states that have projects that reduce transportation emissions.
Electric Vehicle Formula Program
New program for states to deploy electric vehicle charging infrastructure and to establish an interconnected network to facilitate data collection, access and reliability.
Metropolitan Planning Program
Provide local elected officials and transportation authorities input into the planning and implementation of federal transportation funds to ensure coordination of efforts.
Railway-Highway Grade Crossings Program
For safety improvements to reduce the number of fatalities, injuries, and crashes at public railway-highway grade crossings.
Ferry Boats and Facilities
Construction of ferry boats and ferry terminal facilities.
Existing Programs
Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects Program (also known as INFRA)
Provides competitive grants for highway, bridge, and multimodal freight projects of national and regional significance.
Tribal Transportation Program
Provides access to basic community services to enhance the quality of life in Native American areas.
Federal Highways Administration Expenses
Includes: (1) general operating expenses (salaries and benefits, equipment, travel, and other expenses); (2) transfers to the Appalachian Regional Commission; and (3) Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, Highway Use Tax Evasion, and On-the-Job Training Support Services programs.
Federal Lands Transportation Program
Preserve and protect National Park Services resources, while providing safe and enjoyable access to and within the national parks, using sustainable, appropriate, and integrated transportation solutions.
Federal Lands Access Program
Improve transportation facilities that provide access to, are adjacent to, or are located within Federal lands.
Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation (TIFIA)
Provides federal credit assistance in the form of direct loans, loan guarantees, and standby lines of credit to finance surface transportation projects (includes highway, transit, railroad, intermodal freight, and port access) of national and regional significance.
Territorial and Puerto Rico Highways Program
For a highway program in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Also continues to allocate funds to assist the governments of the US territories (American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) in constructing and improving a system of arterial and collector highways and necessary inter-island connectors.
Emergency Relief – Safeguarding Tomorrow through Ongoing Risk Mitigation (STORM) Act
Help states establish revolving loan funds that could be used by local governments to carry out mitigation projects that reduce natural disaster risk.
Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) Allocated Safety Set-Aside
Promotes walking and bicycling to school through infrastructure improvements, enforcement, tools, safety education, and incentives to encourage walking and bicycling to school.
New Programs
Bridge Investment Program
Assists states, local, federal and Native American entities in rehabilitating or replacing bridges.
Charging and Fueling Infrastructure Grants
To deploy publicly accessible electric vehicle charging, hydrogen fueling, propane fueling and natural gas infrastructures along designated alternative fuel corridors.
Rural Surface Transportation Grants
Increase connectivity, improve safety and reliability of people movement and freight, generate regional economic growth and improve quality of life in rural areas.
Make resilience improvements to address vulnerabilities to current and future climate/weather disasters.
Reduce Truck Emissions at Port Facilities Grants
Reduce idling at port facilities.
Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects Grants
Helps build and repair roads and bridges that serve tribal or federal lands.
Congestion Relief Grants
States, local governments and metropolitan planning organizations (MPO) for projects in large urbanized areas (more than 1 million people) to advance innovative, integrated and multimodal solutions to congestion relief in the most congested metropolitan areas of the US.
Research Programs
Highway Research and Development Program
Strategic investment in research activities that address current and emerging highway transportation needs.
Intelligent Transportation Systems Program
Research, development, and operational testing of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) aimed at solving congestion and safety problems, improving operating efficiencies in transit and commercial vehicles, and reducing the environmental impact of growing travel demand.
Technology and Innovation Deployment Program
To accelerate the implementation and delivery of new innovations and technologies that result from highway research and development to benefit all aspects of highway transportation.
University Transportation Centers Program
Federally funded university-based transportation centers (UTCs) for research, education, and training/outreach programs. Under the program, UTCs receive grant funds from the US Department of Transportation to educate the future transportation workforce and to conduct research to advance the field of transportation.
Bureau of Transportation Statistics
Source of statistics on commercial aviation, multimodal freight activity, and transportation economics, and provides context to decision makers and the public for understanding statistics on transportation.
Other Programs
Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS)
ADHS is a 3,090-mile network of highways linking the Appalachian region to interstate highways. The routes are designed as local and regional routes for improving economic development in the historically isolated region.
Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program
New program for projects that remove, retrofit or mitigate previously constructed barriers to mobility, access or economic development to restore community connectivity.
Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program
New program for projects that reduce wildlife vehicle collisions.
Prioritization Process Pilot Program
New program to support data-driven approaches to transportation planning.
Fiscal year ends 30 September
As part of IIJA, the HTF will receive a USD 118bn general fund transfer from the Treasury—USD 90bn to the highways account and USD 28bn for the mass transit account—over the next five years (FY22-FY26). In a future report, Debtwire Municipals will examine the various options that provide a long-term fix to HTF revenue shortfalls.
Additionally, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act has only been temporarily funded through 31 October.
While the IIJA provides a healthy down payment on roads and highways, state and local governments will still need to increase their infrastructure investment for sustained significant improvement.
In Process
On 10 August, the US Senate passed on a bipartisan basis the USD 1trn IIJA, also referred to as H.R. 3684. The IIJA focuses on “hard infrastructure.” The IIJA will not get a vote in the House of Representatives until the fate of the USD 3.5trn “soft infrastructure” legislation proposed by congressional Democrats is resolved.
As these negotiations continue, Debtwire Municipals, through our Bill in Brief series, will write periodic summaries on elements of the IIJA that directly affect state and local governments.