Authorization

U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster has offered a discussion draft of an infrastructure bill that speaks to a number of longstanding, difficult issues, including the future of the Highway Trust Fund, the short- and long-term future of the federal gas tax and the speed with which transportation projects are delivered. While most predict the bill has little chance of making it all the way through the process this year—at least prior to the midterm election—Shuster said in a statement the discussion draft is “intended to further the national conversation about the current state of America’s infrastructure and highlight some of the major roadblocks to funding and improving our transportation network.”

I have an article in this week’s issue of CSG’s The Current State wrapping up the various perspectives on the prospects for infrastructure investment in 2018 that were proffered during Infrastructure Week last month in Washington. But another topic that received some attention from various I-Week speakers and participants involved something else emphasized in President Trump’s infrastructure plan issued in February: streamlining the process by which infrastructure projects receive the go-ahead to move forward, which can often produce years-long project delays.

While a comprehensive infrastructure bill may not be in the cards for 2018, that doesn’t mean infrastructure won’t factor into this year’s Congressional agenda. It also didn’t mean Infrastructure Week (May 14-21) was completely devoid of infrastructure-related news. Far from it. Here’s a roundup of some of the infrastructure news from the last couple of weeks.

Since last week’s release of details of President Trump’s long-awaited infrastructure plan and his proposed FY 2019 budget, reaction has been rolling in. Here’s a primer on where to read more about the President’s overall approach to infrastructure and various aspects of the plan getting attention, as well as what various stakeholder groups and analysts are saying.

President Trump’s State of the Union speech and a leaked outline of his infrastructure package last month produced no shortage of opinions about what the administration has in mind for one of his major policy priorities. Many from across the transportation and public policy communities and from across the political spectrum have expressed serious concerns about the shape the package may be taking. Here’s a roundup of some of the reaction so far.

Issue: During the campaign, Donald Trump called for a $1 trillion package to invest in the nation’s infrastructure. But the devil likely will be in the details for both Republicans and Democrats when it comes to funding the plan and deciding what to fund. Beyond any one-time infrastructure investment in 2017 though, will Congress be able to hit the ground running so they can be ready when it comes time to reauthorize the FAST Act transportation authorization bill in 2020?

Tuesday November 8th appears likely to be a pivotal Election Day for the nation’s transportation and infrastructure. With control of The White House and Congress on the line, the future direction of the federal transportation program is also at stake. With control of governorships and state legislatures on the line, so too could be initiatives to seek additional state transportation investment. Meanwhile, communities like Atlanta, Detroit, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Seattle will consider ballot measures that could enable major investments in public transit over the next few years. And voters in Illinois and New Jersey will decide whether to place constitutional protections on the use of transportation funds.

The transportation policy roundtable during the 2016 CSG Transportation Leaders Policy Academy in Washington, D.C. wrapped up with a panel discussion on the future of the federal-state-local partnership on transportation. The panelists included Emil Frankel and Jeff Davis of the Eno Center for Transportation, Joe McAndrew of Transportation for America and Brigham McCown of the Alliance for Innovation & Infrastructure. They discussed what the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act means for states, what happens after it expires in 2020, how states might be encouraged to innovate more on transportation funding, and why it’s important for federal and state governments to invest in better transportation projects in the future.

Ed Mortimer is executive director of transportation infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and leads the Americans for Transportation Mobility, or ATM, Coalition as its executive director. He was among the presenters at a policy roundtable CSG hosted on May 19 as part of the 6th Annual CSG Transportation Leaders Policy Academy in Washington. He spoke about the importance of infrastructure to the business community, the importance of Congress seeing progress on transportation projects under the FAST Act, the importance of maintaining existing infrastructure and efforts to consolidate federal transportation programs.

Joung Lee is the policy director at the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials in Washington, D.C. He was among the presenters at a policy roundtable CSG hosted on May 19 as part of the 6th Annual CSG Transportation Leaders Policy Academy in Washington. He spoke about the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act approved by Congress last year and its impact for states as well as the need for Congress to find a long-term solution to the solvency of the federal Highway Trust Fund.

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