A bipartisan group of senators introduced a six-year surface transportation reauthorization bill titled the “Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy” or DRIVE Act.
It was introduced by Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee; Barbara Boxer (D-CA), ranking member of the Senate EPW Committee; David Vitter (R-La.), chairman of the EPW Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure; and Tom Carper (D-Del.), senior member of the EPW Committee,
The DRIVE Act increases highway spending from $37.8 billion under the current MAP-21 to $45.5 billion in 2021. Over six years, $257.5 billion will be sent to the states, according to an analysis by the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA).
“I am proud of the bipartisan work that has culminated in a six-year surface transportation reauthorization,” said Inhofe. “Our nation’s roads and highways have suffered under too many short-term extensions, which have led to higher costs, more waste, and less capability to prioritize major modernization projects to address growing demands on our interstates. The DRIVE Act will provide states and local communities with the certainty they deserve to plan and construct infrastructure projects efficiently. This bipartisan bill also contains the hallmark accomplishment of a new freight program to prioritize federal spending on the facilities that will most directly benefit our economy, in addition to prioritizing federal dollars towards bridge safety and the interstate system. The DRIVE Act will help set the tone for America’s economic future by putting our nation back on the map as the best place to do business. We look forward to working with our committee in leading this bill out of markup and to the Senate floor for consideration.”
“The clock is ticking, and action in the EPW Committee is a major first step -- the other committees also need to act,” Boxer said.
“Roads and infrastructure are literally the foundation of our everyday lives. I’m certainly proud to say that we’ve come up with a workable, passable bipartisan bill that will make the necessary updates that our nation’s roads and bridges desperately need,” said Vitter. “The Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act (DRIVE Act) will reduce traffic congestion, which will allow folks to spend less time in traffic and more time with their families, and improve the flow of commerce. This bill is a win-win for everyday Americans and our economy.”
“One of the most important things we do as members of Congress is to help provide Americans with a transportation system that is worthy of this country,” said Sen. Carper. “I’m proud to stand with Sens. Inhofe, Boxer and Vitter today and introduce a strong, bipartisan bill that makes the improvement of our roads, highways, bridges and transit systems a priority for the next six years. Our work, however, is not finished. In order to make the DRIVE Act a reality, we must provide full funding so that city, state and local governments have the certainty they need to make the investments we’ve outlined in this bill. I am steadfast in my dedication to working with my colleagues in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, to find the bipartisan funding compromise Americans expect and deserve."
“Finally, there is progress to put America’s infrastructure back to where it needs to be so we can grow the economy and create jobs,” said Michael W. Johnson, president and CEO of NSSGA.
Due to MAP-21’s numerous extensions and uncertainty surrounding federal funding, many states have delayed projects due to questionable federal support.
“This is a solid first step toward a long-term highway bill, but the trickier part is for Congress to figure out how to pay for it,” Johnson said.
"Getting beyond the gridlock that has been strangling federal investment in the nation’s mobility is going to take bipartisan cooperation and leadership,” said American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President & CEO Pete Ruane. “Sens Inhofe, Boxer, Vitter and Carper have stepped up and done their job by outlining a multi-year highway and public transit program that will make America more competitive.
“Now it’s time for the Senate Finance and House Ways & Means committees to do theirs and provide the path forward with a sustainable revenue stream for the Highway Trust Fund. Transportation investment is a core federal responsibility. It’s time to transcend politics and do the right thing for America.”
Following the introduction of the DRIVE Act, National League of Cities (NLC) CEO Clarence E. Anthony issued the following statement:
"Today we applaud Chairman Inhofe, Ranking Member Boxer and members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for introducing the DRIVE Act, a bill that answers the National League of Cities' call for greater certainty that only a long term transportation bill can provide.
"The transportation marketplace is rapidly changing, and future generations of Americans deserve better than to inherit transportation infrastructure that preserves the status quo. Whether it is the sharing economy or the higher degree of mobility, there is no question that young people are already changing the way Americans think about transportation. And there is no question that local governments are best suited to empower all of their residents in public engagement over how our communities ought to be connected in the future, both in the short and long term.
"For cities and towns, the DRIVE Act is an improvement over the status quo. The bill would improve local control of funding under the Surface Transportation Program and the Transportation Alternatives Program. But there is much more that could – and should – be done. The National League of Cities looks forward to continuing our strong partnership with Chairman Inhofe and Ranking Member Boxer to achieve our goal of enacting a forward-looking, long-term, multi-modal transportation bill."