President Donald Trump is requesting an $810 billion, 10-year reauthorization of surface transportation programs as part of $1 trillion in direct federal spending on infrastructure over the next decade.
The proposal, released Monday as part of the president’s fiscal year 2021 budget proposal, includes $602 billion for highway infrastructure over 10 years, $20 billion for traffic and motor carrier safety, $17 billion for rail infrastructure, and $16 billion for Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loans and Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development grants.
The White House proposal falls well short, on an average annual basis, of the five-year, $760 billion transportation reauthorization strategy recently unveiled by House Democrats but would be more, on average, than the Republican-led U.S. Senate proposal of $287 billion over five years, which Trump pledged to support during his recent State of the Union address.
“We applaud the Senate for reporting out their bill in a bipartisan manner. We worked very closely with them on this proposal,” Federal Highway Administrator Nicole Nason told reporters after the budget was released. “We believe a 10-year proposal gives greater optionality for states for planning their projects.”
As part of the plan, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) would receive a 3.8% increase (to $403 million for 2021) in contract authority for Motor Carrier Safety Grants, which provide funding for states for roadside inspections and safety audits on new carriers. FMCSA would also receive a 3.8% bump (to $299 million for 2021) for operations such as its Compliance, Safety and Accountability Program.
In addition to the $810 billion that would reauthorize the current FAST Act highway bill that expires at the end of September, the White House budget calls for $190 billion in investments across a range of infrastructure sectors, including maritime. It includes $60 billion for a new Building Infrastructure Great grants program that would reduce permitting delays to accelerate “mega projects” that involve landside port infrastructure, as well as roads, bridges, rail and intermodal connections.
An additional $50 billion would be set aside for a new Moving America’s Freight Safely and Efficiently program to provide discretionary grants “to open up bottleneck areas and improve safety by, for example, adding capacity, deploying effective technologies, and expanding truck parking infrastructure.”
The White House budget also proposes $35 billion for a new bridge rebuilding program, pointing out that 80% of the approximately 47,000 bridges in the country classified as being in poor condition are in rural areas.
“Rural communities often lack the resources to rebuild their bridges, and State and local governments often struggle to find the funding to cover the significant cost of replacing large bridges. This program will make targeted investments in critical bridge infrastructure to restore them to good condition.”
Trump’s budget also noted that the investments outlined in the proposal will be “amplified” by reforms put in place since the beginning of his administration, including recent proposed changes to environmental permitting rules that would slash timelines for highway projects.