PSA Infrastructure Advocacy and Education Organization (PSA-IAEO):
America’s Future depends on its Infrastructure!
The PSA Infrastructure Advocacy and Education Organization’s (PSA-IAEO) mission is to educate the general public and elected officials on the importance of increasing public and private funding for roads and bridges, transit, water and wastewater, energy, aviation and rail projects. This includes funding from government sources at the federal, state, municipal, county and town level as well as expansion of private funding participation through public-private ventures.
Senate Passes Bipartisan Infrastructure Package
The Senate recently passed by a vote of 69-30 the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The long-awaited infrastructure package was the product of a lengthy process led by a bipartisan group of 22 Senators.
Notably, the bill contains bipartisan provisions previously passed through the traditional committee process – namely the surface transportation reauthorizations passed unanimously by the Environment and Public Works and Commerce Committees, the bipartisan Energy Infrastructure Act passed by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and the bipartisan Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act passed by the EPW Committee.
The nearly $550 billion in total new spending by sector includes topline amounts as follows:
- Transportation – $284 billion
- Power Infrastructure – $73 billion
- Broadband – $65 billion
- Water Infrastructure – $55 billion
- Resiliency and Cybersecurity – $50 billion
- Environmental Remediation – $21 billion
The package is financed through a combination of redirecting unspent Covid-19 relief funds, targeted corporate user fees, and other measures.
An amendment was added to require USDOT, in coordination with State departments of transportation, to carry out a highway cost allocation study to determine the direct costs of highway use by various types of users, including vehicles of different dimensions, weights, number of axles, etc., frequency of those vehicles in the traffic stream, and safety-, emissions-, congestion-, and noise-related costs of highway use by various types of users, and other costs.
Utilizing the framework in both the EPW Surface Transportation Reauthorization and the Commerce Surface Transportation Investment Acts, plus direct advanced appropriations, the legislation increases spending for transportation. Total transportation funding in this five-year package is $567 billion.
Additional spending for surface transportation includes $110 billion for roads and bridges, with a significant amount of direct advanced appropriations in the form of competitive grants (bridges at $36 billion; RAISE grants at $7.5 billion; INFRA grants at $3.2 billion; and a new $5 billion multimodal “National Infrastructure Project Assistance Grant Program” to support multi-modal, multi-jurisdictional projects of national or regional significance).
Funding for freight and passenger rail increases markedly under the IIJA. $66 billion in freight and passenger rail is made available for Amtrak ($16 billion, plus $6 billion for the Northeast Corridor), Intercity passenger rail ($36 billion), CRISI safety funds ($5 billion), and a competitive rail crossing elimination program ($3 billion).
Transit spending totaling $39.15 billion reflects an increase of 43% above baseline levels for contract authority, for $69.9 billion over the next five years. When combined with the supplemental appropriations of this section, this package provides an 83% increase for transit funding compared to FAST Act levels. Specific provisions include an $8 billion capital investment grant program and a $5.25 billion for a “Low-No” Program to provide funding for zero and low emission transit vehicles and associated infrastructure.
Ports and inland waterways will see an investment of $17.3 billion for waterway and coastal infrastructure, inland waterway improvements, port infrastructure, and land ports of entry through the Army Corps DOT, Coast Guard, GSA, and DHS.
Airports will see $25 billion in formula funds and discretionary grant programs.
The agreement also includes $23.4 billion for the bipartisan Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act, which would provide new investment in water infrastructure across the country, and provides additional funding to address PFAS and for lead remediation.
Streamline Project Delivery
The legislation lifts the sunset on FAST-41, which has served to improve the federal infrastructure permitting process while leaving important environmental protections in place. The Act created the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council, which supports the coordination of federal agencies at the start and throughout the permitting process for major projects.
The IIJA also includes the codification of One Federal Decision, the President Trump-era Executive Order that set a two-year goal for completing the environmental review and permitting process for major projects. Notably, this provision had passed the Senate EPW Committee twice by unanimous vote in the last two years as part of surface transportation reauthorization bills.
The IIJA contains $10.5 billion in new funding for safety measures, including a $1.1 billion grant program to help states improve driver behavior and safety, $467.5 million to support State and local law enforcement efforts to mitigate crashes and hazardous materials incidents involving commercial motor vehicles, and $200 million to support a competitive high priority commercial vehicle safety plan. An amendment was added requiring the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to issue a rule setting new safety standards for limousines within 2 years of enactment of the legislation.
Related to the use of public-private partnerships, the bill requires a value for money analysis for projects with an estimated total cost of more than $750 million. The analysis is required to take place prior to signing any project development agreement, and include an evaluation of the life-cycle costs and project delivery schedule, costs of using private versus public funding and financing, a forecast of user fees and other revenues to be generated by the project, and, along with any other information USDOT determines in evaluating these analyses, any analysis of federal grants, loans, etc., key terms of any proposed P3 and any known rate of return for private entities and major compensation events, a discussion of risk allocation costs and benefits, risk premiums assigned to different development scenarios, and an evaluation of public benefits generated by the project. Further, an amendment was added amending the TIFIA statute to require that TIFIA projects “shall have appropriate payment and performance security.”
An amendment was added to the legislation creating a Minority Business Development Agency within the Department of Commerce, to contain an Office of Business Centers, to engage on a regional basis with the goal of enabling the Federal Government to better serve the needs of minority business enterprises in the region served by the office.
The Path Forward
The legislation now heads to the House of Representatives, where the chamber will vote on the bill as amended by the Senate or take up its own amendments in hopes of a conference committee resolution.