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March 18, 2015 1:00 PM, EDT

Legislation Aims to Boost Transportation Funds at Local Level

Local governments would be able to access more federal funds under a bipartisan bill unveiled this week in the Senate.

The “Innovation in Surface Transportation Act,” sponsored by Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), would allow local entities to vie for a larger portion of federal funds on a competitive basis.

Under the bill, states would have to reserve 10% of their federal highway dollars for making grants for eligible projects. The amount of available funding would differ for projects.

Metropolitan planning organizations, regional transportation authorities and transit agencies would be among the eligible applicants.

“This measure would enable communities to have a say in which projects merit attention and would direct federal dollars to meet those needs. Targeted, cost-effective solutions are key to modernizing this country’s infrastructure,” Wicker said in a March 17 statement.

“There’s a long list of transportation projects that can’t get done in communities across the country because local officials don’t have access to adequate funding,” Booker said.