Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill Clears Senate Hurdle, Includes Shaheen Legislation to Finance NH Transportation Infrastructure Projects
(Washington, DC) – Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) cleared the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021, comprehensive legislation addressing critical surface transportation infrastructure needs across the country. Shaheen included a key provision in the bill based on her standalone legislation to finance New Hampshire transportation infrastructure projects.
The provision, based on her Toll Credit Marketplace Act with Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), would establish a program to help states increase resources for highway and transit projects. The provision directs the Secretary of Transportation to establish a marketplace for the sale and purchase of toll credits, which are accrued when states use toll revenues to invest in transportation projects that benefit the interstate system. While toll credits lack cash value, states can utilize these credits to cover the local match on federally funded highway and transit projects. However, given the limited amount of federal dollars that states can dedicate their toll credits to, many states find themselves left with more credits than they can use. According to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, New Hampshire currently has a balance of more than $200 million in toll credits. Shaheen’s effort would allow states like New Hampshire to sell their excess toll credits to other states on this marketplace to bring in new revenue. These funds could be used for other transportation needs in these states. Shaheen reintroduced her legislation yesterday.
“Addressing our transportation and infrastructure system is a priority shared by both Democrats and Republicans, so I’m glad to see the Senate find common ground and make headway on this issue by clearing this key legislation,” said Shaheen. “I’m particularly pleased by the inclusion of my provision to establish a program that will increase resources for highway and transit projects in New Hampshire and other states that similarly encounter obstacles tied to a surplus of toll credits that they cannot use. Our legislation is a practical solution that will help states boost investments to meet local infrastructure needs. While I’m very encouraged by the overall package, I am disappointed the committee did not heed my concerns regarding the federal funding formula for surface transportation projects that shortchanges New Hampshire. I’ll continue to raise this concern in Congress and with the administration as efforts move forward on repairing and building out our transportation and infrastructure network.”
Senator Shaheen has long fought to bring federal dollars back to New Hampshire to invest in critical transportation and infrastructure projects to fix Granite State roads, rail, bridges and ports. Shaheen recently reintroduced legislation, the Strengthen and Fortify Existing (SAFE) Bridges Act to begin to address structurally deficient bridges across the country. In its 2021 Infrastructure Report Card, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave our nation’s bridge network a barely passing grade of C. According to ASCE, 42% of all bridges are at least 50 years old, and 46,154, or 7.5% of our nation’s bridges are considered structurally deficient. Senator Shaheen recently met with President Biden and a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers in Congress to discuss good-faith efforts to address our nation’s infrastructure needs. Shaheen introduced legislation that would create a national infrastructure initiative to fund innovative projects that promote energy efficiency while meeting significant transportation needs. A senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Shaheen has historically secured federal funding for the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Grant program – formerly known as the TIGER Grant program. In Fiscal Year 2021 government funding legislation, Shaheen helped secure funding for the BUILD Grant program, totaling $1 billion.