December 10, 2018 1:45 PM, EST

Capitol Agenda for the Week of Dec. 10: Just in Time for the Holidays

Missouri Rep. Sam GravesMissouri Rep. Sam Graves (AAAEDelivers via YouTube)

From the town that gave us legislative gridlock and constantly tries to popularize the word “cloture,” comes Washington’s newest unique funding tradition. On Dec. 11, the U.S. Department of Transportation will announce the recipients of its latest round of the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development, or BUILD, grants (formerly known as TIGER).

These are the grants that help cash-strapped state and municipal agencies pay for that bridge repair or freight rail project that keeps our governors awake at night. (Dec. 11 update: Recipients announced)

Ahead of the announcement, a few Congress members have alerted the public about extra funds headed to their districts. Missouri Rep. Sam Graves, the incoming ranking Republican on the transportation panel, noted the city of Maryville will receive $10.4 million for its South Main Corridor Improvement Project. As he put it, the project will “improve safety, decrease gridlock and provide a beautiful new corridor through Maryville.”

“I’m thrilled that city leaders and businesses were forward-thinking in applying for this grant, and I look forward to seeing the completed project,” Graves said, adding that Kansas City’s Buck O’Neil Bridge project also will benefit from a $25 million BUILD grant.

Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart


Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, the chamber’s top transportation appropriator, boasted about the $9.5 million Miami-Dade County will receive in BUILD money for a transit project. “For years, I have told the county that I am willing and able to help fund their transit needs, once a viable plan had been submitted,” Diaz-Balart said.

Not to be outdone, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy (D) indicated the state’s transportation agency won a BUILD grant worth $20 million to help rehabilitate or replace 31 rail bridges in the Vermont Railway system.

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy


“This investment in Vermont’s rail infrastructure is a win-win for business and the environment. By increasing the capacity of the VT Railway, Vermont businesses will have better access to rail shipping, which in turn will lead to fewer trucks on our roads,” Leahy said. “As a country and a state, we need to prioritize these types of infrastructure investments that will lessen the transportation sector’s reliance on fossil fuels. It has been one of my priorities to ensure that rural states like Vermont have access to these programs, and I’m pleased that this project will be funded through that work.”

Since their inception during the Obama administration, policymakers and transportation officials at every level of government have boasted about the benefits that come from these infrastructure grants. The Trump White House sought to eliminate them for fiscal 2019.

THE WEEK AHEAD (all times EST):

Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl


Dec. 10, 6 p.m.: The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies hosts Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) for a discussion about legal affairs.

Dec. 11: U.S. DOT unveils the winners of its BUILD infrastructure grants.

Dec. 11, 8 a.m.: Politico hosts its sixth annual Women Rule Summit with Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) headline the event.

Dec. 11, 9 a.m.: The Copper Development Association Inc. hosts a summit on “Electric Vehicles: Navigating the Road Ahead.”

Dec. 11, 10 a.m.: The House Environment Subcommittee meets for a hearing titled, “Discussion Draft: The 21st Century Transportation Fuels Act.”

Dec. 11, noon: The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies hosts a discussion titled, “The New Congress and Congressional Oversight.”

Dec. 12, 10:15 a.m.: The House Energy Subcommittee holds a hearing titled, “Public Private Partnerships for Federal Energy Management.”

Dec. 13, 10 a.m.: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration holds a meeting of the Unified Carrier Registration Plan.


PUMP IT UP: Federal policymakers should raise and index federal fuel taxes to address immediate funding needs for the vast network of infrastructure projects and transportation corridors nationwide, recommended authors of a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report published Dec. 6.

WATCHDOGS: Targeted outreach efforts and training are key to reaching industry representatives who can aid in the fight against human trafficking, according to Kendis Paris, executive director of Truckers Against Trafficking. 

STAY WOKE: Distracted and drowsy driving creates risk for drivers as well as fleets, but various forms of technology can alert drivers to these hazards and enable fleets to tailor training to prevent future events.


Idaho gets the memo


T&I will bring up NY/NJ Gateway early next year, sources say.


I think it’s going to be hard to look back and see, is there a father/son pair that’s been so successful in Congress. I don’t know.

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Executive Director Jim Tymon speaking to Transport Topics about the Shusters on Dec. 6.

Jim Tymon of AASHTO


I (heart) New York


Alphabet Soup

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