The U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has finished the review and mark-up of the INVEST1 in America Act, H.R. 3684,2 which aims to spend around $547 billion on transportation and infrastructure over the next five years in the U.S. The bill will be before the full House soon. Industry and interest groups have hailed the bill, and Committee chair Peter DeFazio described it as a “once-in-a-generation-opportunity” to encourage cleaner, more environmentally favorable surface transportation.
Over $340 billion is targeted at traditional spending on roads and bridges. In addition, the bill would spend $109 billion on transit and around $95 billion on passenger and freight rail. One billion dollars are earmarked towards bringing transit infrastructure into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. But excitement is largely building over the increase in active transportation infrastructure, urban rail, and evaluative standards designed to measure access to job, education, and medical care. The bill currently requires Amtrak to power 100 percent of its operations through renewable energy by 2030. H.R. 3684 also enacts reforms to speed and safety rules that would impact the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), an industry-standard reference that guides the use of traffic signs, markings and signals. Changes to the MUTCD would have impacts on contractors and business entities around the nation.
Apart from its national implications, the legislation promises to have a significant impact on Washington State. Seattle-area Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal secured provisions in the bill providing around $20 million in funding for Puget Sound transportation projects, including:
- $5.36 million for extensions of Sound Transit’s Link system to West Seattle and Ballard;
- $4.2 million for the electrification of the Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) Seattle Ferry Terminal;
- The Seattle Department of Transportation will receive around $2.34 million for Phase 1 of its East Marginal Way Corridor Improvements project;
- $3.1 million for Lake Forest Park’s Culvert Replacement Project will receive around $3.1 million; and
- $5 million in funding towards the I-5/Lake Washington Ship Canal Bridge Deck Overlay by WSDOT.3
This spending would contribute to the completion of a diverse array of significant transportation projects around the region. The bill also provides large sums for transportation grants to improve public roads and reduce greenhouse gasses for urban bus and intercity rail lines. Public entities, contractors and design professionals should be on the lookout for these grant opportunities.