Home Transportation Democrats offer $494 billion transport bill targeting economy, climate

Democrats offer $494 billion transport bill targeting economy, climate

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And it calls for investments in rail, authorizing $60 billion to address a maintenance backlog in rail infrastructure, establishing new intercity passenger rail routes and expanding commuter rail. That would include $29.3 billion over five years for Amtrak — more than three times the current level. 

But before implementing those policies, the bill would address the current pandemic, providing $83.1 billion in fiscal year 2021 to help save state and local transportation agencies crippled by the pandemic. 

It would briefly eliminate the state-federal match, ensuring that all federal dollars offered in 2021 would be offered at 100 percent federal share. And the bill would allow state and local governments to use $22 billion of that  money for salaries and operating expenses.

By changing the matching formulas, the bill mirrors elements of one passed by the House on May 15. That bill, which has not advanced in the Senate, would allocate $15 billion for highway spending but would increase the federal share for highway projects to 100 percent. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials in early May asked for $50 billion in direct emergency assistance to state departments of transportation. 

46 percent boost

In all, the bill would offer surface transportation programs $494 billion over five years, including $411 billion over five years out of the Highway Trust Fund for highway, transit, safety and research programs, representing a 46 percent increase over current investment levels, according to documents released by the committee. 

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