U.S. Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA) introduced last week a package of transportation bills that would direct federal funds to local transportation projects, address transportation safety, and set a zero-emission goal for public transportation.
“As a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, one of my top priorities in Congress is ensuring that communities across the country, like Ventura County, have safe, reliable, and accessible transportation systems,” Brownley said. “As we deal with the devastating impacts that the coronavirus pandemic has wrought on our nation, we have the unique opportunity to advance transportation initiatives that can address the climate crisis, improve safety standards, all while creating more high quality, good-paying jobs and strengthen our local economies.”
The “Support Local Transportation Act” would ensure that more federal funding is sent directly to local communities and transportation planners by increasing the sub-allocation for local communities under the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program from 55 percent to 61 percent in Fiscal Year 2022 and increasing it another 1 percent annually through Fiscal Year 2026. The money could be used for transportation improvement projects, such as highways, bridges, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, and safety improvements, among other uses, Brownley said.
Another piece of legislation, the “Green Bus Act,” would set a goal for transit agencies across the country to transition to zero-emission buses. To do this, starting in 2029, all buses purchased with federal funds would have to be zero-emission buses. Additionally, the bill would increase the federal cost share on zero-emission buses from 80 percent to 90 percent.
The third piece of legislation, the “National Multimodal Freight Network Improvement Act,” would require the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to include ports with annual cargo values of $1 billion or more, to be listed on the National Multimodal Freight Network.
“Small and mid-sized ports, like the Port of Hueneme here in Ventura County, are crucial to the economic vitality of both our region and of markets across the United States and Canada. They handle hundreds of thousands of tons in fruits and vegetables that larger ports cannot process due to the perishable nature of these goods,” Brownley said. “My bill would ensure that ports that move $1 billion or more in annual cargo are included in the National Multimodal Freight Network (NMFM). This will help improve the delivery of goods not only across the country and across the entire continent. These ports are key drivers for our national economy, and businesses of all shapes and sizes rely upon these ports for goods movement in their supply chains.”
Lastly, the Safe and Friendly for the Environment (SAFE) Streets Act would require state and local transportation agencies to assess the safety of vulnerable road users, like pedestrians and bicyclists. The bill would direct more federal funding to safety improvements in the areas that see higher fatality rates and serious injury rates amongst pedestrians and bicyclists.
All four pieces of legislation were previously introduced to the 116th Congress in 2019, where they were referred to the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.