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June 3, 2019 2:30 PM, EDT

House Funding Leaders Take Up Trucking Policy in Fiscal 2020 Transportation Bill

Rep. David Price Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) said the bill would lay the foundation for economic growth and opportunity. (Fox News via YouTube)

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A fiscal 2020 transportation measure packed with trucking provisions is on the June 4 meeting agenda of the Democratic-led committee in the U.S. House of Representatives responsible for funding decisions.

Eugene Mulero

Mulero

The provisions in the appropriations measure include a requirement for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to post publicly on its website analyses of violations developed under the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program, as well as deny funding for the review of an industry concern regarding state meal-and-rest-break laws.

The bill also would direct FMCSA to require annual inspections of rear underride guards. Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would be tasked with working with experts and stakeholders “to facilitate the deployment and adoption of rear and side underride protection devices.”

The bill also outlined policymakers’ concerns with the size and weight of trucks. A report accompanying the legislation cited a 2015 report that determined nearly 4,900 bridges would need to be reinforced if truck weights are increased to 91,000 pounds.

On hours of service, the bill’s report noted, “When considering exemptions to the 30-minute rest break regulation, the committee encourages FMCSA to consider the safety implications of making routine stops during the day, of drivers remaining physically active during nondriving periods and of adding additional vehicle miles operated to the roads.”

And, the bill would provide $1.5 billion for the National Highway Freight program. According to the bill’s report, “Our nation’s major freight corridors improve our economic efficiency, promote economic growth and increase employment.”

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman David Price (D-N.C.) said the bill “will benefit all American communities — urban and rural — and lays the foundation for economic growth and opportunity. I look forward to working with my colleagues to enact it into law.”

The Week Ahead (all times Eastern)

June 3, 12:30 p.m.: The Trump White House continues to push back on international reports that sound the alarm about the effects of climate change. At the National Press Club, Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler updates the public about the work accomplished during his tenure at EPA.

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton

Norton

June 3, 1 p.m.: Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), chairwoman of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee, participates in a webinar titled, “Responding to America’s Infrastructure Crisis.”

June 4, 9:30 a.m.: The House Ways and Means Committee hears the priorities from members of the chamber.

June 4, 10 a.m.: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee welcomes Robert Wallace, the nominee to become Assistant Interior Secretary.

June 4, 10:30 a.m.: The House Appropriations Committee considers the fiscal 2020 transportation funding bill.

June 5, 10 a.m.: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee welcomes Robert Wallace, nominee to become assistant interior secretary.

June 6, 10 a.m.: The Office of Government Information Services hosts a meeting of the Freedom of Information Act advisory committee.

Mood Swings

The curse of the Trump Infrastructure Week struck again last month. This summer, infrastructure is out, and the other “I” word is in. Chances of a deal this year have bottomed out.

 

In Case You Missed It

A new chapter in the War on Drugs, courtesy of Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Who’s New (Amazonification edition)

The corporate plaza enclave that is the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington County in Northern Virginia is having a moment. As Amazon readies its arrival to the once sleepy office park, officials are proceeding with enhancements to transit, biking and walkability. The objective is to accommodate all users safely on the area’s streets, Dennis Leach, deputy director of Transportation with the county told Transport Topics this spring.

Dennis Leach

Leach

“The company’s location is a really good fit for us,” he said. “We’re hoping that a big lever in terms of affecting travel behavior is that people have to pay to park. So if the company chooses to charge market rate for the parking spaces, that’s also an incredibly powerful lever to affect behavior.”

In terms of technological advancements, he noted: “If you tell me that we’ve gotten the real technological breakthrough, that we have a driverless bus that can navigate urban conditions and be safe and reliable, I am excited.”

Per growing calls for federal policymakers to become reliable partners on infrastructure policy, he added, “There’s hasn’t been a lot of national leadership on this issue. I think in the last couple of years the federal level has abdicated its role. And that the real innovations is happening at the level of cities and some states. And the same is true with the funding. Our balance of funding for infrastructure in Arlington is overwhelmingly state, regional, local. We have some federal money left in our program, but it’s a relatively small portion of the program.”

Rendition of Amazon's Arlington, Va., headquarters

A rendition of Amazon's planned headquarters in the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington County, Va. The yellow buildings mark Amazon's future campus. (Courtesy of JBG Smith)

Buzz

The Department of Transportation’s proposal on policy changes to federal hours-of-service rules is expected this month.

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The Last Word

We all agree that infrastructure funding is a major priority for our state so that we can reduce greenhouse gases, prioritize renewables and protect public health.

— Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) on May 31.

Rep. Frank Pallone

We publish weekly when Congress is in session. E-mail emulero@ttnews.com with tips. Follow us @eugenemulero and @transporttopics.