KATKO: LONG-TERM HIGHWAY BILL PASSES HOUSE TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE COMMITTEE
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24), member of the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, today announced that the Committee has unanimously passed the bipartisan Surface Transportation Reauthorization & Reform Act, a long-term highway bill that addresses many of Central New York’s pressing infrastructure needs. Importantly, the bill will provide stability as NYSDOT moves forward with the Interstate 81 Rebuild.
“I’ve consistently advocated for a long-term highway bill to fully provide for the pressing infrastructure needs of Central New York,” said Rep. John Katko, who has repeatedly raised the issue with House leadership and his colleagues on the Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure. “This bill will break the cycle of short-term extensions that make planning and investment nearly impossible for our state and local governments.”
At Representative Katko’s request, the bill designates I-81 through Central New York as a ‘High Priority Corridor.’ This signifies the Committee’s recognition of the importance of I-81 to Central New York as well as its importance to the national economy.
“Local projects, especially the I-81 rebuild, require funding stability,” continued Katko. “This fiscally-responsible proposal delivers that stability so that Central New York can plan for the long term.”
Significantly, the bill will make it easier for major projects, like the I-81 rebuild, to move forward by streamlining permitting and study requirements that often take years to complete.
Representative Katko also advocated for the following items included in the bill, which will be of benefit to CNY:
· Creation of a National Surface Transportation and Innovative Finance Bureau which will aid state and local governments in securing financing for projects, navigating the regulatory process, and the creation of public-private partnerships to aid in financing. This will make project delivery easier and more navigable for state and local governments, which has been a priority for Rep. Katko.
· Protects current funding formulas to ensure that states like New York don’t lose out on funding due to new means of allocating money.
· Provides states new flexibility in the use of funds for bridges that aren’t a part of the National Highway System, which is the case for the vast majority of bridges in NY-24. This will make it easier for states to fix bridges in need of repair that may not have received funding before.
· Continues grant programs for bus programs and facilities, which may be of benefit to agencies like Centro.
· Establishes a National Highway Freight Program, and a National Multimodal Freight Program to provide ways of breaking up freight bottlenecks around the country, and focus resources improving the nation’s freight infrastructure. All interstates, including I-81, are part of the National Highway Freight Program under the bill. Rep. Katko asked the Committee to consider the importance of multimodal programs to improve connectivity and the movement of goods and traffic.
· Requires a new federal rulemaking to protect bus operators from assault.
“This bill reduces red tape and streamlines regulations, while providing increased flexibility and predictability for our state so that we can preserve and expand our federal transportation investments. I am hopeful that we can move forward to pass this bill out of the House to ensure a long-term, sustainable solution,” concluded Katko.
Since 2009, there have been 34 short term extensions to highway programs enacted by Congress. This bill, if ultimately enacted with a proper funding component, will provide a minimum of three years of stable transportation investment that keeps up with inflation and could provide as many as six uninterrupted years of funding authorization if reforms yield new sources of revenue for transportation programs.
A separate Katko amendment was also included in the bill to ensure that the Federal Highway Administration finalizes regulations to protect the lives and safety of construction workers and motorists in highway work zones.
While the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure authorized policies to keep transportation programs working nationwide, the House Committee on Ways and Means is tasked with determining the bill’s funding component.
Congressman John Katko represents the 24th Congressional District, which includes all of Onondaga, Cayuga, and Wayne Counties and a portion of Oswego County. For more information, please visit https://katko.house.gov or www.facebook.com/RepJohnKatko.