Congress extends Highway Bill two days
The House and Senate Tuesday extended the old surface transportation funding bill for the ninth time, but this time for only two days, indicating they are on the brink of finalizing a new and comprehensive six-year funding bill.
The Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, better known as the Highway Bill, is a reauthorization of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), the last comprehensive surface transportation bill. That bill first expired in 2003, but has received a series of extensions at past spending levels, as the White House and Congress have sought to work out a compromise bill. The last extension was scheduled to expire Tuesday.
The House and Senate have agreed to a spending level of $286 billion for six years, but are still working on a precise formula for how the money will be divided between the states.
But in addition to setting spending levels, the bill includes a number of provisions that are considered critical to commercial transportation interests.
For the first time, the bill includes provisions to build intermodal connectors between seaports and the highway network, and for the development of freight transportation gateways.
In addition, the bill includes a compromise agreement worked out by the American Trucking Associations' Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference, the American Association of Railroads, and the Ocean Carriers Equipment Management Association that would clarify the responsibility of intermodal chassis providers like steamship lines and railroads when they interchange equipment with motor carriers.
The bill also contains a provision that would streamline the federal review process for transportation projects.