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Rep. Julia Brownley recently introduced legislation designed to secure additional federal funds for local transportation programs.
The Support Local Transportation Act would incrementally increase funding for localities via the federal Surface Transportation Block Grant program. Specifically, the legislation would amend the allocation under the program from 55% to 61% in fiscal 2022. From then, it would increase the allocation by 1% annually to 65% in fiscal 2026.
Localities would be authorized to use the funds for transportation improvement projects, such as highways, bridges, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.
“Sending more federal dollars directly to the local level is the best way that Congress can ensure these resources are spent on local community priorities,” Brownley (D-Calif.) said in a statement Jan. 28. She is a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
“Local transportation planners and local governments know their communities’ needs best, so it makes sense to give them greater control over how these resources are allocated. These investments can help make our communities more livable and improve transportation options and safety,” she continued.
The Surface Transportation Block Grant program, via the Federal Highway Administration, is designed to facilitate access to funds for states and municipalities for certain projects. Priority is given for improvements on Federal-aid highway, bridge and tunnel projects, as well as transit capital projects, such as intercity bus terminals.
Separately, the congresswoman also introduced legislation that would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to include ports with annual cargo value of more than $1 billion on the National Multimodal Freight Network.
The network is meant to enhance economic competitiveness, mitigate congestion and boost safety, security, and efficiency.
“Small and midsized ports, like the Port of Hueneme here in Ventura County, are crucial to the economic vitality of both our region and of markets across the United States and Canada. They handle hundreds of thousands of tons in fruits and vegetables that larger ports cannot process due to the perishable nature of these goods,” Brownley said.
The National Multimodal Freight Network Improvement Act, she said, “will help improve the delivery of goods, not only across the country, but across the entire continent. These ports are key drivers for our national economy, and businesses of all shapes and sizes rely upon these ports for goods movement in their supply chains.”
Additionally, Brownley and Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), a proponent of funding for transit projects, introduced legislation that would require nonfederal transportation agencies to assess the safety of nonmotorists. Specifically, the Safe and Friendly for the Environment, or SAFE, Streets Act would direct funding toward safety improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists.
“We have a duty to ensure the safety of our communities for people of all ages and backgrounds, and improving pedestrian safety and biker accessibility are steps we can take today that will continue to have enormous benefits in the future throughout our neighborhoods,” Espaillat said Jan. 28.
The measures were referred to the committee of jurisdiction. Their consideration has yet to be announced.
Congressional Democrats, as well as the Biden White House, indicated they intend to prioritize funding for safety improvements across every aspect of the country’s transportation system. The White House is expected to unveil comprehensive infrastructure legislation in the coming weeks.
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