U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) today praised Senate passage of the bipartisan Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act. The measure includes several provisions offered by Blunt that will improve our nation's highways, bridges, and rail service.
"Strengthening our transportation network is vital to boosting economic growth, creating jobs, and increasing competitiveness in Missouri, and across the nation," Blunt said. "Because Missouri is a hub for our nation's railways, highways, and waterways, it is imperative that our transportation planners and industry have the long-term certainty they need to promote investment, ensure the safety and reliability of existing infrastructure, and expedite the permitting process for new projects. The bill passed by the Senate today represents the longest highway authorization in more than a decade, and I am glad we can finally move forward with infrastructure improvements that will benefit Missouri's families and small businesses, and provide a foundation for the 21st century economy."
Following are the Blunt-backed provisions included in the bill:
Off-System Bridges: County-owned bridges make up 52 percent of Missouri's bridges, and 30 percent of them are structurally deficient or obsolete. The bill protects the dedicated revenue stream for off-system bridges, a set-aside Blunt established in the 2012 highway bill, and makes more funding available for all bridges.
Track, Railroad, and Infrastructure Network (TRAIN) Act: The bill includes Blunt's bipartisan TRAIN Act, which reforms and streamlines the environmental permitting process for rail projects. The measure promotes additional investment in rail systems without compromising environmental quality.
Emergency Route Working Group: The bill includes Blunt's language to create a working group at the Department of Transportation to address delays caused by state-by-state permitting requirements for special vehicles needed for emergency infrastructure response.
Competition in Passenger Rail: The bill includes provisions from the Senate-passed bill, supported by Blunt, to promote more competition in passenger rail service.
Grid Reliability Bill Act: The bill includes the Grid Reliability Act, a bill sponsored by Blunt and Senator McCaskill (Mo.), which would improve the reliability of the electric power grid and protect electricity providers from conflicting federal regulations.
The five-year highway bill authorizes $305 billion for our nation's federal highway, transit, safety, hazardous materials, and passenger rail programs, including more than $5.5 billion for the state of Missouri. It also includes reforms to cut red tape and streamline the project permitting process, increases flexibility for state and local governments, and maintains our transportation safety.