COCHRAN VOTES TO PASS LONG-TERM TRANSPORTATION BILL
Five-Year Plan Offers Mississippi More Certainty of Federal Support for Roads, Bridges & Other Projects
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today voted for the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which would ease federal regulatory burdens and direct additional resources for transportation improvements in Mississippi and across the country for the next five years.
The FAST Act (HR.22) would be the first long-term highway authorization bill signed into law since 2009. The legislation passed the Senate by a 83 to 16 margin, and now heads to the President, who has indicated he will sign it into law.
“A long-term surface transportation bill is an important step toward giving Mississippi and all states the certainty and resources they need to improve infrastructure to promote economic growth, development and public safety,” Cochran said.
“I am pleased that this legislation will be signed into law and give our state the means to support the infrastructure necessary to assure quality of life for Mississippians and improve our ability to better compete in the global economy,” he said.
The FAST Act authorized the federal aid highway program through 2020 with a formula-based program schedule that would provide states with a sustainable source of funding. In addition, the legislation also works to ensure that rural transportation projects receive an equitable distribution of funds. Overall, the FAST Act would provide Mississippi with an estimated $2.7 billion in transportation funding that the state would not receive otherwise.
Additionally, the FAST Act would emphasize bridge reconstruction and safety, a key issue for Mississippi, by increasing funding specifically designed to shore up deficient bridges. According to the Federal Highway Administration, 2,275 bridges in Mississippi, approximately 21 percent of the state’s total, are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.
The final bill includes provisions from Transportation Alternatives Program Improvement Act, introduced by Cochran and U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.). The highway bill includes set-aside block grant funding for which local communities can apply to implement a variety of local transportation needs, including bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, Safe Routes to School initiatives, community improvement activities, recreational trails and other projects.
Finally, HR.22 includes provisions to reduce the regulatory burdens associated with the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) process for infrastructure projects. NEPA compliance requirements currently cause significant delays and significant additional costs to transportation projects.