The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on June 4 unveiled its five-year, $547 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill, titled the INVEST in America Act. As expected, the measure leans heavily on the INVEST in America Act introduced in 2020 that ultimately was incorporated into the broader Moving Forward Act.
At a high level, the INVEST in America Act provides $343 billion for roads, bridges and safety, including $4 billion for electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The bill allocates $109 billion for transit and $95 billion for passenger and freight rail.
NATSO continues to analyze details of the plan and its implications for NATSO members.
The Transportation committee is scheduled to mark up the INVEST Act June 9. As the authorizing committee, the T&I Committee measure focuses exclusively on highway policy and does not outline how to fund the infrastructure package.
Both the House and the Senate are seeking to reauthorize existing surface transportation law before it expires September 30.
Ultimately, any legislation passed in the House would need to be conferenced with Senate legislation. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed its surface transportation bill in mid-May, but that bill has not yet been voted on by the full Senate. The House Committee bill also comes as Senate Republicans continue to hammer out a separate infrastructure deal with the White House.
Electric Vehicle Charging:
As with the Moving Forward Act, the INVEST Act includes a provision that would carve out an exception for electric vehicle charging to the longstanding federal law prohibiting the sale of fuel, food and other services at rest areas.
Section 1303 would establish a “Clean Corridors” program to provide funds for the acquisitions and installation of electric vehicle charging and hydrogen infrastructure. Eligible entities would be required to consider the proximity of existing off-highway travel centers, fuel retailers, and small businesses to electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
NATSO supports efforts to develop an alternative fuel corridor grant program and expand the adoption of alternative fuels, including electric vehicle charging. However, as currently written, the House policies stand to discourage private sector investment in electric vehicle charging, and stifle the market’s transition to electric vehicles.
NATSO ultimately opposed the Moving Forward Act in 2020 due to the inclusion of this same provision, marking the first time in NATSO’s history that the association opposed a highway bill.
The federal ban on commercial activities at Interstate rest areas has incentivized businesses to invest in fuel stations just off of America’s highways since the inception of the Interstate Highway System.
NATSO thinks that private sector development of this national fueling network has ensured that drivers of gasoline powered cars do not suffer from range anxiety. A similar approach would drive demand for electric vehicles.
The INVEST Act would make it more difficult for states to toll, including repealing certain tolling pilot programs and establishing new tolling guardrails for states.
Specifically, it would repeal the Interstate System Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program (ISRRPP), which permits three states to collect tolls on existing Interstate highways for the purposes of reconstructing or rehabilitating Interstate Highway corridors. NATSO and the Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates have long-advocated for repeal of the ISRRPP. The pilot program is more than 20 years old and no state has ever successfully implemented the program due to strong public opposition to tolling.
The INVEST Act also would replace the Value Pricing Pilot, which permits designated states to deploy variable tolls to address traffic congestion, with a new congestion pricing program and establishes new restrictions on what qualifies for congestion pricing. Under the INVEST Act, states would have to apply for tolling authority, taking into consideration congestion and air quality impacts as well as economic impacts.
The bill does not include a prohibition on truck-only tolls, nor does it set limits on what types of bridges can be tolled. Trucking groups have been advocating for such limits as states like Rhode Island and Pennsylvania seek to toll bridges as a way to circumvent existing federal tolling law.
The INVEST Act would set aside funds for states, public agencies and local governments to construct commercial parking on the Federal Highway System.
The INVEST Act allocates $250 million dollars for each of the fiscal years 2023 through 2026. (Moving Forward, by comparison, allocated $125 million in its first year and increased funds each year up to $175 million for 2025.)
The bill specifies that states could utilize funds awarded under the program to put in commercial truck parking adjacent to private commercial truckstops or travel plazas and that grant recipients may partner with a private entity to carry out an eligible project.
NATSO worked closely with Rep. Bost (R-Ill.), who introduced the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, which was incorporated into the INVEST Act, to ensure that grant recipients could partner with truckstops and travel plazas. NATSO thinks that to the extent that the federal government allocates designated funds for truck parking such partnerships should be prioritized because the private sector provides 90 percent of the nation’s commercial truck parking.
Eligible entities must agree not to charge for parking constructed with the grant money.
NATSO has long maintained that the best way to address any truck parking capacity concerns is for motor carriers to negotiate truck parking in their contractual relationships with truckstops and travel plazas.
Because the private sector provides 90 percent of the nation’s commercial truck parking capacity, NATSO also has long advocated for the federal and state Departments of Transportation to remove barriers to private sector investment in truck parking capacity.
NATSO also encourages the exploration of the use of tax incentives or land acquisition assistance for the private sector to build new parking capacity.
Subscribe to Updates
NATSO provides a breadth of information created to strengthen travel plazas’ ability to meet the needs of the travelling public in an age of disruption. This includes knowledge filled blog posts, articles and publications. If you would like to receive a digest of blog post and articles directly in your inbox, please provide your name, email and the frequency of the updates you want to receive the email digest.