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July 8, 2019 9:45 AM, EDT

Senate Panel Schedules July 10 Hearing on Highway Reauthorization Priorities

Highway overhead i-84waterbury.com

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Senate surface transportation leaders will meet July 10 to examine the merits of having a long-term highway policy bill on the books.

The GOP-led Environment and Public Works Committee will kick off its task of producing a successor for the five-year FAST Act highway law, which expires at the end of September 2020.

Witnesses include Carlos Braceras, president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

Tom Barrasso

Barrasso

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle claim to be in favor of approving a long-term highway reauthorizing measure that avoids short-term approvals of safety provisions and funding programs.

The panel’s chairman, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), has said he intends to advocate a policy that would streamline the environmental permitting process for major projects in a highway law reauthorization. The top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, has insisted on pushing climate change policy.

“It’s time we stop throwing good money after bad, and start investing in roads, highways, bridges and transit systems that will harness innovation and withstand the impacts of our changing climate,” Carper said earlier this year.

Additionally, the FAST Act’s update will need to address lingering questions about funding for the network of freight and passenger corridors. A federal account that relies on dwindling revenue from the fuel tax is estimated to approach insolvency in about two years. Infrastructure funding proponents from myriad industries support raising the federal 24.4 cents-per-gallon diesel tax, and 18.4 cents-per-gallon gas tax. The federal fuel tax rate is from 1993.