SAFETEA-LU — Title I: Highways
Highway programs — including the core programs of Interstate Maintenance, National Highway System, Highway Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation, Surface Transportation, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement, and Equity Bonus (replacing the “Minimum Guarantee” in TEA 21) and a new Safety program — total approximately $210.2 billion. Average annual highway funding totals $42 billion in SAFETEA-LU as compared to $29.5 billion in TEA 21, a 42.5 percent boost.
The bill authorizes the appropriation of approximately $18.5 billion for Projects of National and Regional Significance, and approximately $15 billion for High Priority projects over the life of the bill.
SAFETEA-LU (Sec. 1604) provides states with increased flexibility to use tolling to manage congestion and finance infrastructure improvements. The legislation maintains the Value Pricing Pilot Program and allocates $11 million in fiscal 2005, plus $12 million annually from fiscal year 2006 through 2009, for congestion pricing pilot projects designed to ease congestion, improve air quality, reduce energy use and/or enhance efficiency. One-quarter of the funds in the final four years will be reserved for congestion pricing projects that do not involve highway tolls.
The bill calls upon the U.S. Department of Transportation to carry out 15 demonstration projects involving variable-rate, automated tolling on bridges, tunnels and highways (including Interstates) to manage high levels of congestion, reduce emissions and/or finance the expansion of a highway to ease congestion. Federal money will cover up to 80 percent of total costs on these projects.
SAFETEA-LU also establishes an Interstate System Construction Toll Pilot Program, which would allow a state or a compact of states to collect tolls for the purpose of building Interstate highways. This program will cover three toll facilities on the Interstate System. The pilot program prohibits non-compete agreements under which the state would be prevented from improving or expanding public roads adjacent to the toll facility; and during the course of the pilot program, regular Interstate highway maintenance funds cannot be used on the toll facility.
SAFETEA-LU establishes several new programs to support congestion relief projects. These include the Projects of National and Regional Significance Program (Sec. 1301) and the National Corridor Infrastructure Improvement Program (Sec. 1302). Bay Area projects set to receive funding through these programs include:
Real-Time System Management
SAFETEA-LU also establishes a Real-Time System Management Information Program (Section 1201) to promote the monitoring of traffic conditions on major highways and the sharing of this information to help ease congestion; improve response to severe weather, accidents and other incidents; and enhance security on the transportation system. This program includes no new funds, but allows states to obligate federal funds apportioned to them for investment in real-time traffic information systems. The U.S. Department of Transportation must within two years establish data exchange formats to ensure that information can be readily exchanged across jurisdictional boundaries.
High-Occupancy Vehicles, Hybrids and Tolling
SAFETEA-LU (Sec. 1121) explicitly allows states to implement variable-priced, high-occupancy/toll (HOT) lane programs, including HOT lane programs on Interstate highways. The agency that controls the HOT lane must establish an enrollment program, an automated toll-collection system, policies and procedures for variable-rate tolling, and policies and procedures for violation enforcement. If the HOT lanes generate more revenue than is needed to maintain and operate them, priority for the excess toll funds will be given to projects that promote alternatives to solo driving and/or improve highway safety.
The legislation authorizes states to allow vehicles certified as inherently low-emission to use high-occupancy (HOV) lanes if the state establishes procedures for enforcing restrictions on the use of HOV lanes by these vehicles. SAFETEA-LU also allows the free or discounted use of HOT lanes by certified low-emission and energy-efficient vehicles. This paves the way for implementation of the California law (AB 2628, Chapter 725, 2004 Statutes) that allows single-occupant hybrid vehicles to travel on certain HOV lanes.
SAFETEA-LU allows states to set a miles-per-gallon standard that hybrids must achieve to use HOV lanes (45 m.p.g. under California Assembly Bill 2628). But the federal law is silent on the emissions standards a hybrid must meet. AB 2628 spells out very strict emissions rules. Only the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic hybrid and Honda Insight currently meet both the mileage and emission requirements of AB 2628. SAFETEA-LU requires the federal EPA Administrator within six months to issue a final rule establishing both emissions and energy-efficiency standards for single-occupant vehicles’ entry into HOV lanes. The state Department of Motor Vehicles is issuing the decals necessary for single-occupant hybrids to travel lawfully in HOV lanes while the California Air Resources Board, Caltrans and federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency review the program.
Federal highway funds for individual programs are apportioned via complex formulas. After calculations are made, additional funds are distributed to ensure that all states receive a minimum rate of return on their residents’ contribution in the form of federal excise gasoline taxes. Each state’s share of apportionments from the Interstate Maintenance (IM), National Highway System (NHS), Bridge, Surface Transportation Program (STP), Highway Safety Improvement (HSIP), Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ), Metropolitan Planning, numerous other programs, and the Equity Bonus itself, along with High Priority Projects, will be at least a specified percentage of that state’s share of the Highway Account of the Federal Highway Trust Fund. The specified percentage, referred to as a relative rate of return, is 90.5 percent for 2005 and 2006, 91.5 percent for 2007, and 92 percent for 2008 and 2009.
CMAQ Project Priority, Eligibility
Congress added (Sec. 1808) truck stop electrification systems, emergency communications equipment, system management projects that reduce congestion, and diesel engine retrofits to the projects that are eligible to receive Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) funds. SAFETEA-LU directs states and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) such as MTC to prioritize funding for congestion-relief and diesel retrofit projects, while also including a clause stating that this language is not intended to disturb existing authorities and roles of agencies in selecting projects.
Highway Safety Improvement Program
SAFETEA-LU (Sec. 1401) creates a new Highway Safety Improvement Program, which is authorized to receive approximately $5.1 billion. Safety projects were previously funded from a set-aside of 10 percent funding out of the Surface Transportation Program. The new safety program, which includes a High-Risk Rural Roads Program, is intended to fund projects in state plans that address a range of safety concerns. Eligible projects include intersection safety improvements, pavement and shoulder widenings, installation of rumble strips or other warning devices, installation of skid-resistant surfaces, improved safety for bicyclists, pedestrians and persons with disabilities, elimination of hazards at railway-highway crossings, traffic calming features, improved signage or pavement markings, and improvement in the collection and analysis of crash data.
Safe Routes to School
SAFETEA-LU (Sec. 1404) authorizes a new Safe Routes to School Program of some $612 million through fiscal 2009. The goal of the program is to enable and encourage primary and middle-school children to walk and bicycle to school by making it a safer and more appealing alternative and also to facilitate planning, development and implementation of projects and activities that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption, and air pollution in the vicinity of schools. Eligible projects include those related to infrastructure (planning, design, and construction) and non-infrastructure (such as public awareness campaigns). Funds will be apportioned to states based on total student enrollment in primary and middle schools factored against total student enrollment in primary and middle schools in all states, with no state receiving under $1 million.
Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program
Congress also created a new Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program (Sec. 1807) to determine the extent to which bicycling and walking can carry a significant part of the transportation load in four selected communities — including the Bay Area’s Marin County. A total of $25 million is authorized for each of the four communities to construct a network of nonmotorized transportation infrastructure, including sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and pedestrian and bicycle trails to connect directly with transit, schools, homes, businesses, recreation areas and other community centers.
Truck Parking Facilities
SAFETEA-LU (Sec. 1305) provides $6.25 million each year from fiscal 2006 through 2009 for a pilot program to address the shortage of long-term parking for commercial trucks along the National Highway System. Funds can be allocated to MPOs as well as states or local governments. Eligible projects include:
Roadway Safety Improvements for Older Drivers and Pedestrians
The U.S. Transportation Secretary is directed (Sec. 1405) to implement a program to improve traffic signs and pavement markings consistent with published recommendations by the Federal Highway Administration to accommodate older drivers and pedestrians.
Metropolitan Planning Funds
SAFETEA-LU (Sec. 1107) boosts funding for metropolitan planning organizations such as MTC, from a set-aside of 1 percent of specified highway funds to 1.25 percent.
Highways for LIFE Pilot Program
To foster use of new technologies and more efficient ways of building highways, SAFETEA-LU creates a Highways for LIFE pilot to promote (Sec. 1502) state-of-the-art technologies, elevated performance standards and new business practices that result in improved safety, faster construction and fewer associated delays for highway users. A total of $75 million is authorized through 2009 for incentive grants, to fund up to 20 percent but not more than $5 million of the total cost of a qualifying project. Up to 15 projects may receive incentive funds annually.
National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue CommissionSAFETEA-LU creates (Sec. 1909) a 12-member panel to conduct a comprehensive examination of the current condition and future needs of America’s surface transportation system and develop a plan, with alternative approaches, to ensure that the surface transportation system will continue to meet the nation’s needs. A similar infrastructure financing commission is created under Sec. 1142 of the Revenue Title (XI) of SAFETEA-LU to review current and anticipated transportation revenues in the Highway Trust Fund, how those revenues flow among the various accounts, and whether total revenues are likely to increase, decline or hold constant absent statutory changes.
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This page was last modified Friday February 27, 2009
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