DeFazio representative to highlight solutions to traffic congestion
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WASHINGTON – Representative Peter DeFazio, chairman of the United States House Transportation Committee and author of a comprehensive five-year, $ 547 billion freeway bill, is keenly aware that being stuck in traffic is bad for business.
That’s why, when his highway policy bill hits the House this month, he plans to remind the country that the legislation seeks to help everyone, including the commercial transportation industry, to spend less time stuck in traffic.
“Businesses are losing money because of traffic jams and delays,” DeFazio (D-Ore.) Told Transport Topics in a one-on-one interview June 16 in his Capitol Hill office. “This bill will be a major investment in – the biggest one-time investment in – surface transportation infrastructure ever. “
People are quite tired of the congestion. They are pretty tired of repair costs [because] potholes. They are fed up with detours.
Representative Peter DeFazio
Specifically, the bill’s proposals would help transport agencies alleviate concerns about freight supply chains, as well as improve the resilience of infrastructure to extreme weather events. Reducing congestion and climate change are the main policy drivers proposed in what would be an update to the country’s surface transport policies, as well as a pillar of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure program.
“People are pretty tired of the congestion. They are pretty tired of repair costs [because] potholes. They are tired of the detours, ”DeFazio said.
In an attempt to improve connectivity and minimize traffic congestion, DeFazio’s highways bill would spend $ 343 billion on roads, bridges and safety programs, around $ 100 billion on transit systems and $ 95 billion to freight and passenger rail programs. There is also about $ 6 billion for projects specific to congressional districts.
Recent findings from the American Transportation Research Institute determined that traffic was a contributing factor in slowing trucks on the roads. Freight bottlenecks cause the trucking industry to lose 1.2 billion hours of annual productivity, which adds an additional $ 75 billion to the cost of freight distribution, according to ATRI. In addition, recent studies have shown that commuters in large cities frequently encounter delays on roads and public transport.
The House freeway bill, called Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation, or INVEST, in America Act, is currently widely supported by Democrats. The five-year, $ 547 billion re-authorization was approved in committee on June 10 by a vote of 38-26.
the #INVESTAct will ensure we rebuild our infrastructure with American workers, materials made in the United States and American ingenuity through strong #BuyAmerica labor provisions and protections. Let’s rebuild our country and create millions of jobs that cannot be exported.
– Committee on Transport and Infrastructures (@TransportDems) June 14, 2021
The emphasis on themes outside of traditional surface transport policies, as well as programs related exclusively to climate change, has contributed to the lack of support from Republicans.
DeFazio said he was working with his colleagues across the way to bridge the gap when debating terms such as “climate change” as opposed to “weather resilience”.
“Republicans say they want to [severe-weather] resilience: “The sea level is rising. Hurricanes are getting worse. We want resilience. And I said, ‘OK, well, then can we deal with climate change.’ They say, ‘No, no, no. It has nothing to do with climate change. Climate change is wrong. It doesn’t exist, ”DeFazio said. “They are quite willing to work on these things, but they are unwilling to talk about the cause that might be causing it. “
DeFazio added, “I do resilience. They are in favor of it.
Additionally, DeFazio affirmed his bill’s focus on trucking policies that would promote workforce safety and development. The trucking provisions of the House bill include the approval of a contracting authority of $ 2.2 billion for fiscal years 2023 to 2026 for motor carrier safety subsidies. DeFazio also noted a proposal that would establish a truck rental task force to review truck rental agreements, an issue that has been on its radar.
“I had hearings about this years ago. … So we’re going to ask the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of Labor to set up a truck rental task force to look at these practices, ”he said.
When the highway bill is passed by House lawmakers, DeFazio and his fellow House leaders will meet with their Senate counterparts to reach agreement on a final highway policy measure. Senators are finalizing their version review to update a 2015 road law, which expires in September.
Neither the House nor the Senate highway bills would establish a long-term funding mechanism for federal highway programs. These road programs are mainly supported by insufficient revenue from federal fuel taxes. Asked about fuel taxes, DeFazio said the matter was up to the Ways and Means Committee on tax drafting. This tax policy expert group has yet to legislate on road finance programs.
In his own words, “the ideas I have are not in line with what the president [Biden] possesses. So I believe we can work with user fees, indexation, bonding, etc. But, it’s not on the table, so just forget about it. Right now, it’s up to the Ways and Means Committee to decide.
The bill would also direct the administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to expedite the modernization of the agency’s information technology and management systems, and encourage states to participate in a comprehensive management program. information systems.
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