New House Transportation Reauthorization Bill Expected for Mark Up This Week

The current patch bill funding highway and transit spending expires on Oct. 29. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has released a multi-year bill called the Surface Transportation Reauthorization & Reform Act of 2015 (STRR Act).

2 minute read

October 19, 2015, 6:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid


"The House is planning to mark up a long-term transportation funding bill on Oct. 22, just days before the scheduled expiration of the nation's infrastructure spending," writes Keith Laing for The Hill. "The panel's chairman, Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), said the hearing will give lawmakers a chance to weigh on a multi-year extension of the transportation funding measure."

The current extension expires on Oct. 29, though a post last month indicated that highway and transit funding may last through June. However, a bill is needed to reauthorize the Highway Transportation Fund regardless of current funding levels.

The House bill is called the "The Surface Transportation Reauthorization & Reform Act of 2015 (STRR Act)," a 14-page document released on Oct. 14. It doesn't indicate the time period it covers, other than being called a "multi-year" bill, and doesn't indicate funding levels.

The bill "(c)onverts the Surface Transportation Program (STP) to a block grant program;" rolls the Transportation Alternatives Program (e.g., biking and walking projects into STP, "allowing 50 percent of transportation alternatives funding in urbanized areas to be used on any STP-eligible project; (i)ncreases funding for railway-highway grade crossings, and (b)ans the use of funding for automated traffic enforcement systems."

Under the "Reform" section, the bill "(s)treamlines the environmental review and permitting process to cut red tape and accelerate project delivery."

  • Eliminates duplicative regulatory processes by creating a pilot program to empower states to use their own existing environmental laws and regulations instead of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), if substantially 

The funding level needs to be greater than current spending, argues Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) in a press release.

According to data from the Congressional Budget Office, a new six-year bill starting in 2016 would authorize $328 billion at baseline levels.  To start making a dent in our infrastructure deficit, we should be investing ten to twenty percent more, meaning a six-year bill would cost between $360 billion and $400 billion.

Laing writes that "(t)he Department of Transportation has warned that it will have to begin cutting back on payments to states and local governments for infrastructure projects in November if Congress does not reach an agreement on a highway bill extension this month."

The Senate has already passed the six-year DRIVE Act, though it is funded for only three years.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015 in The Hill

Rendering of electric scooters, electric cars, light rail train, and apartments in background.

Arizona’s ‘Car-Free’ Community Takes Shape

Culdesac Tempe has been welcoming residents since last year.

February 14, 2024 - The Cool Down

Aerial view of suburban sprawl with large single-family homes near Dallas, Texas.

The Changing Shape of American Suburbs

Housing costs and availability are pushing more American households, including young families, to suburbs and exurbs — and they’re demanding changes.

February 13, 2024 - Business Insider

Aerial view of New York City architecture with augmented reality visualization, blue digital holograms over buildings and skyscrapers

4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design

With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.

February 20, 2024 - ArchDaily

Google street view of wide grassy median in Beverly Hills, California.

Beverly Hills Installs First ‘Green Street’

A three-block median featuring native plants and bioswales is part of the city’s broader effort to reduce water consumption and pollution.

February 22 - Beverly Press

Habitat for Humanity volunteers in construction helmets buildign a wood-frame house.

Habitat for Humanity and Missoula Land Trust Team up on Affordable Housing

The partnership will ensure the new homes will remain affordable for future buyers.

February 22 - KPAX

Orange California poppies in bloom over gently rolling hills in Southern California's Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve.

Experiencing California's Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve

Located in the western Mojave Desert, this stunning state natural reserve is renowned for its breathtaking displays of California poppies and has even been referred to as California's most beautiful place.

February 22 - California.com

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

The Walkable City

Harvard GSD Executive Education

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.