House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) introduced his long-awaited $260 billion transportation bill, H.R. 7., the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act on Jan. 31, which was marked up by the committee two days later.
Numerous amendments were offered during a 17-hour mark-up on Feb. 2, during which the committee voted to strip an increase in truck weight restrictions out of the bill and instead direct the Department of Transportation to conduct a three-year study on how increased truck weights would affect safety and road wear and tear.
NATSO currently is reviewing the bill and numerous amendments, including language that would allow rest areas to pursue advertising and sponsorship opportunities.
H.R. 7 also seeks to allow states to toll new interstate highways while remaining eligible for federal funding for the particular roadway. On existing interstates, states would not be permitted to divert these toll revenues to non-transportation projects. Except for bridge reconstruction, the ban on tolling existing interstate capacity would remain in place.
The bill also would require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to survey each state to measure the adequacy of parking for commercial motor vehicles and permit states to use highway dollars for parking adjacent to truckstops, or in rest areas, inspection or weigh stations.
The most contentious aspect of the highway bill continues to center on the issue of how to fund it. The House version does not raise fuel taxes. Rather the legislation would be funded through royalties from expanded oil and gas drilling, both offshore and in a small portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The full House is expected to vote on the bill before President's Day.
The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee unanimously approved a bi-partisan two-year highway reauthorization bill in November. The Senate version of the highway bill, also known as MAP21, would fund the nation’s transportation program for two years at current funding levels.
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