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Voters in Maine and Texas approve infrastructure initiatives

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Seven states held statewide elections on Tuesday with two states--Maine and Texas--passing ballot initiatives that will provide bonding for infrastructure projects.

Voters approved a $100 million proposal for general obligation bonds for transportation infrastructure projects in Maine, with $85 million for highways and bridges, and $15 million for rail, aviation, ports and active transportation. 

In Texas, voters approved a legislatively referred constitutional amendment. The proposition authorizes counties to issue bonds or notes to raise funds for transportation and infrastructure in underdeveloped areas. 

House sets date for final infrastructure vote

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The House of Representatives is expected to vote Thursday on the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

Originally, a vote had been expected as early as today. However, on Sunday evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House would begin debate on IIJA today and then vote on Thursday.

The current surface transportation authorization is set to expire on Thursday, meaning the House must pass the infrastructure package or a short-term extension of the Fixing America’s Surface Transporation (FAST) Act, or face the Highway Trust Fund going insolvent.

Senate passes bipartisan infrastructure package

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The Senate today passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The $1.2 trillion plan includes the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act (STRA) that passed through the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee earlier this year.

“ATSSA applauds the passage of this historic investment in roads, bridges and safety,” ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner said. “The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will allow ATSSA members to undertake even more lifesaving work on America’s roadways. We are encouraged by the work done in a bipartisan manner in the Senate and strongly urge the House to follow their lead in implementing a robust, long-term and safety-focused infrastructure plan.”

The House will need to also pass the infrastructure plan for it to go into effect. However, members on both sides of the aisle have expressed a weariness toward the Senate version. It is unclear what the plan forward is on the legislation.

Final action on a Senate infrastructure package could be a week away

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Senate action Wednesday night on a bipartisan infrastructure package starts the clock on the issue but a final vote on the Senate floor could be at least a week away.

The Senate voted 67-32 Wednesday night to proceed to debate on the bipartisan infrastructure package that has been agreed to by a group of 22 Republican and Democrat senators, known as the G-22. Seventeen Republican senators voted to advance the measure. The Biden administration also supported it.

If passed, the legislation would then head to the House, where members of both parties have expressed concerns with the package as constructed.

Congressional Road Safety Caucus puts spotlight on safety

Transportation and safety proposals this year offer optimism for roadway safety advocates

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One of the ways members of Congress shine a light on a specific issue is through the formation of congressional caucuses. Reps. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) and Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) have done exactly that in creating the bipartisan Congressional Road Safety Caucus this year.

One of the first steps came on April 14, when Reps. Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.) and Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) introduced the High Risk Rural Roads Safety Grant Program Act in the House. The Act would create a new competitive grant program for local jurisdictions and tribal nations to focus federal funding on rural and tribal road safety projects.

Funded at $600 million annually, this proposal would give a needed boost to targeting safety challenges on these rural and tribal roadways.

Other roadway safety proposals are also being considered on Capitol Hill.

CAT Coalition working group shares research on AV issues, primer plans

Participants share impacts of AVs on highway infrastructure and report on U.S. readiness

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Members of the Cooperative Automated Transportation Coalition Infrastructure-Industry (CAT I-I) Working Group shared recently that they are assembling a primer with acronyms and definitions for autonomous vehicle (AV) and connected vehicle (CV) infrastructure and technology.

The primer is not the first of its kind but intended to “bridge the gap” between Infrastructure Owner-Operators (IOOs) and Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) practitioners, according to the CAT I-I working group members.

The working group's recent meeting also included presentations by Ted Hamer, managing director at KPMG Corporate Finance, and Paul Carlson, chief technology officer at Road Infrastructure Inc.

ATSSA endorses rural road safety legislation introduced in the House

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Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) introduced H.R. 2481, the High Risk Rural Roads Safety Grant Program Act, in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bipartisan proposal, which is strongly supported by ATSSA, would direct federal roadway safety infrastructure funds to locally owned rural roads.

The fatality rate on rural roads is two times greater than on non-rural roads, according to U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) statistics. Additionally, local governments generally do not have the resources needed to make critical, lifesaving roadway safety infrastructure investments.

H.R. 2481 would create a $600 million competitive grant program that local governments could apply for, with the federal grant being funded at 100%. A specific $100 million set-aside is also included for tribal road safety.

In addition to ATSSA, the American Highway Users Alliance, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), National Association of Counties (NACo), National Association of County Engineers (NACE) and the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) endorsed the legislation.

Biden proposes $2 trillion infrastructure plan

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President Joe Biden today released a proposal to spend $2 trillion on infrastructure projects over an 8-year period. Dubbed the American Jobs Plan, the broadly defined infrastructure concept is separated into four components: Transportation infrastructure and roadway safety, “How We Live” infrastructure, “Care” infrastructure, and Innovation infrastructure.

"ATSSA applauds President Biden, Secretary [Pete] Buttigieg and the administration on ensuring that roadway safety is front and center in the American Jobs Plan,” ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner said. “Between increasing funding for roadway safety projects, a focus on pedestrian and bicyclist safety, encouraging and funding vision zero programs, and noting the emotional toll that roadway fatalities and serious injuries have on American families, this proposal will put us on a path of reducing fatalities toward zero in the decades to come. ATSSA looks forward to working with the Biden administration and Congress to make zero fatalities a reality through investments in roadway safety infrastructure.”

Election Watch: ATSSA’s Government Relations Team is monitoring election results

Their eyes are on key races impacting transportation and infrastructure

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ATSSA’s Government Relations Team is monitoring the 2020 election results and will be reporting on key races important to transportation and infrastructure when they are available. As we all know, this is an election like no other and the timing of the results is unpredictable but know that our team is on it.

Once results are clear, we’ll post them here along with GR Team analysis and insights.

ATSSA’s Government Relations Team reaching out to political leaders during Democratic and Republican national conventions

Team is making key contacts during this week's Democratic and next week's GOP convention

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The Democratic National Convention kicks off today and our Government Relations Team is on the move, making contact with members of Congress in support of ATSSA’s interests in roadway safety.

While he won’t be able to be there in person,  Vice President of Government Relations Nate Smith will be taking part in virtual conversations with political leaders about key ATSSA issues including cybersecurity and technology, energy and the environment, and the role of the private sector in economic recovery.

Smith also plans outreach during next week's Republican National Convention.

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