Caleb Franklin (Editor)
Series: Transportation Issues, Policies and R&D
Transportation Issues: Appropriations, Partnerships and Infrastructure is a compilation of government reports dealing with important current issues.
DOT’s funding arrangements are unusual compared to those of most other federal agencies, in that most of its funding is mandatory budget authority coming from trust funds, and most of its expenditures take the form of grants to states and local government authorities as explained in chapter 1.
Since the beginning of the 112th Congress, the House and Senate have observed a ban on earmarks, formally known as congressionally directed spending. The ban has led to changes in the way transportation funding decisions are made. Chapter 2 explains what earmarks are and discusses their use in surface transportation finance.
Federal assistance to public transportation is provided primarily through the public transportation program administered by the Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The federal public transportation program was authorized from FY2016 through FY2020 as part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (P.L. 114-94). Chapter 3 provides an introduction to the program as authorized by the FAST Act.
The growth in freight transportation demand, along with growing passenger demand, has caused congestion in parts of the transportation system, making freight movements slower and less reliable. federal support of freight infrastructure investment is likely to be of significant congressional concern in the reauthorization of the surface transportation program. The program is currently authorized by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) While the FAST Act concerns many aspects of surface transportation funding and safety policy, the focus of Chapter 4 is on truck freight and that portion of the rail and port industries that transports truck trailers and containers (intermodal freight).
Public-private partnerships (P3s) in transportation are contractual relationships typically between a state or local government, who are the owners of most transportation infrastructure, and a private company. Chapter 5 discusses several possible issues and policy options that Congress may want to consider. These include P3 project evaluation and transparency, asset recycling, incentive grants, a national infrastructure bank, equity investment tax credits, and deregulation of Interstate highway tolling. It also discusses changes to the existing TIFIA and PABs programs.
Chapter 6 examines the special challenges of maintaining rural roads and presents data on their use and condition. It also looks at federal spending on rural roads and discusses relevant policy issues for Congress.
Chapter 7 begins by discussing FHWA assistance for the repair and reconstruction of highways and bridges damaged by disasters (such as the 2017 Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria) or catastrophic failures (such as the collapse of the Skagit River Bridge in Washington State in 2013). This is followed by a discussion of FTA’s assistance program, established in 2012, which has provided assistance to public transportation systems on two occasions, once after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and again after the 2017 hurricanes.
The President’s “Buy American and Hire American” initiative includes an executive memorandum requiring the Secretary of Commerce to develop a plan for new pipelines in the United States to be made from domestically produced iron and steel, and a separate executive order directing agencies to strictly adhere to Buy America laws. Buy America refers to several similar statutes and regulations that apply to federal funds used to support projects involving highways, public transportation, aviation, and intercity passenger rail, including Amtrak. Chapter 8 examines the effects of Buy America on these industries.
Chapter 9 reports on a major rule promulgated by the Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) entitled “Pipeline Safety: Plastic Pipe Rule” (RIN: 2137-AE93).
Since 2016, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) generally addressed Transportation Security Acquisition Reform Act (TSARA) requirements through its policies and procedures for acquisition justifications, baseline requirements, and management of inventory. Chapter 10 examines TSA’s (1) progress in addressing TSARA requirements since 2016, (2) reporting to Congress on SRT acquisitions, and (3) internal communication of its implementation decisions.