Biden to Tout Infrastructure in State of the Union Address
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Ahead of his second State of the Union address to Congress, scheduled for Feb. 7, President Joe Biden toured Amtrak’s northeast corridor. He stopped in Baltimore and New York City to announce funding and resources his administration will dedicate for massive rail projects at those two hubs. The funding stems primarily from a $1.2 trillion infrastructure law enacted in 2021, which earned bipartisan backing in Congress.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act established so-called megaproject grants to rehabilitate the country’s infrastructure.
An intricate and sophisticated set of railway tunnels between northern New Jersey and Manhattan, coined “Gateway,” fit the mega classification. On Jan. 31, the U.S. Department of Transportation indicated nearly $300 million would be dedicated to “lay the groundwork for the much-anticipated Gateway.”
“This is just the beginning — just the beginning of finally constructing a 21st century rail system that’s long, long overdue in this country. This project is critical to transforming the Northeast corridor, increasing speeds, capacity, reliability and safety,” Biden said Jan. 31 from the Long Island Railroad west side train yard in New York City. “In addition to getting folks out of cars and on to trains, we’re going to help the environment as well.”
President Joe Biden discusses plans for replacing the 150-year-old Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel during a stop in Baltimore on Jan. 30. (Al Drago/Bloomberg News)
Or, as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) observed, “Many of us waited for years for this moment. And after a lot of persistence, we can finally say Gateway is going to be built.”
Gateway is just one of the major infrastructure initiatives supported by the bipartisan infrastructure law.
New York City’s Gateway, the Brent Spence Bridge connecting Ohio to Kentucky and the Interstate 10 freight corridor in Mississippi were recipients of the National Infrastructure Project Assistance megagrants.
The administration’s focus on funding improvements to passenger and freight connectivity around the country will be among the themes during Biden’s State of the Union, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg suggested on the Sunday news shows.
“You can’t lead the world, especially in a highly competitive environment, unless you have world-leading infrastructure. It’s one of the things that motivated this administration to work, this president to lead, in a bipartisan way, to do the biggest investment in infrastructure since the Eisenhower years,” the secretary said on NBC’s “Meet The Press” on Feb. 5.
Senior congressional Republicans, meanwhile, have pledged to examine the implementation of programs and provisions authorized in the bipartisan infrastructure law. The GOP leaders stressed that careful oversight will be devoted to big-ticket projects, such as those deemed “mega” by USDOT.
“Although I did not support IIJA, I accept that it is the law of the land,” Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) said Feb. 1 at a hearing titled, “The State of Transportation Infrastructure and Supply Chain Challenges.” Graves is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Several of his Republican colleagues echoed his viewpoint. “What we have to do is make sure Congress and this committee ensure the money from IIJA is spent responsibly, and is directed toward making our nation’s transportation supply chain more efficient and resilient. We owe it to the American people to do just that.”
The Week Ahead (all times Eastern)
Feb. 7, 10 a.m.: The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee reviews aviation policy.
Feb. 7, 9 p.m.: President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address to Congress.
Feb. 8, 10 a.m.: The House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee debates water infrastructure policy.
Feb. 9, 10 a.m.: Senate Commerce Committee meets to discuss recent national air travel disruptions. Witnesses include Andrew Watterson, chief operating officer at Southwest Airlines.
Wake up in a city that never sleeps.
Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), left, and Jim Costa (D. Calif.)
A bill that would dedicate funds to expand truckers’ access to parking nationwide recently was introduced in the House of Representatives. The Safer Highways and Increased Performance for Interstate Trucking (SHIP IT) Act, sponsored by Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.), would approve nearly $800 million through fiscal 2026 for parking projects connected to commercial vehicle operations.
“It is the sense of Congress that it should be a national priority to address the shortage of parking for commercial motor vehicles on the federal-aid highway system to improve highway safety,” according to the measure, which also aims to promote safety and enhance capacity along freight corridors. Committee consideration has yet to be scheduled.
A recent House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing highlighted autonomous vehicle policies while taking aim at China. Per panel Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), “Whether it’s artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles or smart devices, China wants to dominate these new and emerging technologies.”
Keep it clean.
Safety is the No. 1 priority.
FHWA today announced that 70 Tribes will receive approximately $21M for 93 projects that improve road safety on Tribal lands, addressing one of the safety goals laid out in @USDOT’s National Roadway Safety Strategy. https://t.co/WTWKoO26IK #BipartisanInfrastructureLaw pic.twitter.com/u0opPYW1Mz — Federal Highway Admn (@USDOTFHWA) February 2, 2023
The Last Word
ATA shares DOT’s commitment to the goal of zero highway fatalities.
Dan Horvath, American Trucking Associations’ vice president of safety policy on Feb. 3Image
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