Well, we have ourselves a new $305 billion Federal Highway Bill. A long-term transportation bill finally made its way onto the books late last week. President Obama signed it into law just before the nation’s road and highway funding was set to expire at midnight on Friday.
So here is what the long-term highway authorization bill, or H.R. 22, Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, does in a nutshell.
It extends the nation’s road and highway spending for five years with total funding at $305 billion. The bulk of the money will be spent on the Highway Trust Fund. That means it will be used for construction projects on roads, bridges, and mass-transit programs.
About $50 billion of the funding is earmarked for transit projects. And $980 million will go to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration vehicle safety provisions. The bill also distributes $10.36 billion for rail and freight-related projects and $12.2 billion for capital investment grants.
The money for all of this will come from existing gas tax revenue (yep, that’s right, no increase in the gas tax). Instead of raising the gas tax, $19 billion will be withdrawn from the Federal Reserve’s $29.3-billion surplus account.
“This bill is not perfect, but it is a commonsense compromise, and an important first step in the right direction,” Obama said in a statement ahead of the bill signing.
The bill also aims to improve the nation’s infrastructure by streamlining the environmental review and permitting processes and improving truck and bus safety. It also reauthorizes the controversial Export-Import Bank’s expired charter until 2019. The federal agency helps American companies sell products overseas,
A little-known provision also impacts low-volume classic replica car manufacturers. They’ll no longer have to meet government crash test requirements provided they only sell 325 replicas per year.
The measure is the first long-term national transportation spending package passed by Congress in a decade.