The chairs of three U.S. House Committees released a framework on Wednesday for a five-year, $760 billion investment in infrastructure they believe would address America’s most urgent capital investment needs.
About $329 billion would go toward modern highways and highway safety investments to fix 47,000 structurally deficient bridges. About $105 billion would increase funding for transit agencies to add new routes and provide more reliable service, encouraging viable public transit options, and fewer single-occupant cars. About $55 billion would expand the passenger rail network to give travelers a low-carbon option to travel both short- and long-distances, including to regions that lack frequent or affordable airport service.
About $30 billion would go to support airport investments to meet growing passenger demand and to advance the Federal Aviation Agency’s airspace modernization efforts to make air travel safer and easier.
The nonprofit Gateway Development Corp. is leading a $14.3 billion-plus infrastructure project to replace 109-year-old Hudson River rail tunnels and the 109-year-old Portal Bridge, which spans the Hackensack River between Secaucus and Kearny. Gateway trustees say this infrastructure project is being delayed due to the federal government not approving federal money.
“There is no more urgent infrastructure need for rebuilding this nation than the Gateway Program,” Spokesman Stephen Sigmund said via email. “It replaces a 109-year-old, one-track-in, one-track-out system that threatens a vital link to 20 percent of the nation’s economy, with modern, reliable, resilient transportation. That’s what this nation deserves, and that’s what this framework would deliver.”
About 200,000 people commute through the Hudson River rail tunnels on an average day, Gateway trustees say.
Beginning in 2020, each additional day that Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and the U.S. Department of Transportation delays reaching a decision on the Hudson Tunnel’s Environmental Impact Statement increases the cost of the project by $1.2 million, according to an updated financial plan submitted by the Gateway Development Corp. and its partners in August 2019, according to Build Gateway Now Coalition.
Build Gateway Now Coalition members have pushed for months to support the approval of the Environmental Impact Statement. They also released a count-up clock on the organization’s website to track time passed since March 30, 2018.
The framework was put forth by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon; Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, D-New Jersey; and Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal, D-Massachusetts. They say the framework will bolster the federal role to help communities around the country undertake transformative projects that are smarter, safer and made to last.
DeFazio, Pallone and Neal say the $760 billion addresses the massive maintenance backlog to design safer streets, to put the United States on a path toward zero emissions from the transportation sector, and to increase resiliency. They say the framework outlines major investments, including those in surface transportation, rail and transit systems, airports, ports and harbors, wastewater and drinking water infrastructure, brownfields and broadband.
They say the $760 billion infrastructure investment is a framework that brings existing infrastructure into a state of good repair and enables the completion of critical projects through long-term, sustainable funding.