Senate Committee Leaves AV Bill out of Transportation Packageeditor@aashto.org June 18, 2021 0 COMMENTS
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved its $78 billion five-year Surface Transportation Investment Act by a vote of 25 to 3 following its markup session, with 50 amendments approved and added to the bill.
The committee’s bill – introduced on June 10 – provides $36 billion for railroad infrastructure investment, $27.8 billion for multimodal grant programs, and $13 billion for safety programs.
Not included in the final bill is the American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies or AV START Act, proposed as an amendment by Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota.
The AV START Act – originally promulgated by Sen. Thune in October 2017 – aims to create “uniform national standards” at the federal level to govern AV operation on U.S. roads. Thune originally tried to get the AV START Act added to 2018 Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization but it was blocked by five Democratic Senators at the time.
Other key aspects of the Commerce committee’s reauthorization bill include:
- Invests an average of $1.2 billion per year in the nationally significant multimodal freight grant program, also known as INFRA.
- Authorizes and increases funding for the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity or RAISE program – formerly entitled the BUILD and TIGER grant program – to $1.5 billion annually.
- Creates a new program to fund “big dollar” value projects of “national significance” at $2 billion annually.
- Authorizes more $25 billion over five years for intercity passenger rail investments while protecting Amtrak’s long-distance routes, addressing Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor project backlog, and encouraging expansion of passenger rail corridors with state support.
- Invests $7.5 billion over five years for rail safety and improvement projects, including a new $500 million per year grant program to eliminate grade crossings.
- Provides $6 billion in funding for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration highway safety programs.
- Provides $4.6 billion for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s commercial vehicle programs to improve truck safety and provide flexibility to states to help address highway fatalities, combat human trafficking, and improve law enforcement training.