More Details from the Massive Infrastructure Bill and its Amendments

The bill's more than 400 amendments include a VMT pilot, a Texas megahighway, and funding for accessibility at transit stations.

August 9, 2021, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Highway Construction

Robbt / Flickr

Kea Wilson highlights key points of some of the amendments proposed for the revised infrastructure bill, including a proposal to supplement or replace the gas tax as more Americans purchase electric vehicles. "One option that’s gained bipartisan interest in recent years is a Vehicle Miles Travelled tax (also known as a mileage-based user fee). The bill includes $50 million for a five-year pilot to study how the U.S. might shift to the innovative model, as well as to raise public awareness about its benefits (though some argue it’s not a silver bullet, or that drivers should face other taxes, too.)"

"One of the handful of amendments that the Senate did manage to pass on Tuesday — and with landslide bipartisan support to boot — was aimed at understanding just how the Highway Trust Fund became so drastically underfunded." Transit advocates hope that "commissioning the first federal study that actually quantifies that blindingly obvious truth is an important first step towards finding a funding mechanism that actually reflects the full costs of the mode." 

"The visionary All Stations Accessibility Program Act (which Streetsblog discussed with sponsor Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) in May) gained a much-deserved place in the bill, with $1.75-billion devoted to helping transit agencies and commuter rail providers retrofit stations to meet the needs of people with physical, cognitive, sensory, and other mobility challenges." But that falls short of the $10 billion originally requested by the senator, and an amendment calling for "equity of service to all riders…taking into account historical and current service gaps" failed to pass.

"As the debate slogs on, advocates are still doing everything they can to fold the best provisions of the House’s celebrated INVEST Act into the Senate’s largely status-quo reauthorization measures — something that could be especially critical if the mega-bill isn’t conferenced in the House like pretty much everyone wants. "

Thursday, August 5, 2021 in Streetsblog USA

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