Surface Transportation Reauthorization

NSPE Position
NSPE supports a reliable, sustained user fee and proportional approach to building and maintaining the nation's transportation system. NSPE also supports federal financial assistance for multi-modal and diverse forms of transportation. NSPE feels that a substantial increase in federal infrastructure appropriations is essential. NSPE feels the increase should first come from actually spending the gas tax revenues the federal government receives, including interest earned, then from eliminating any diversions of gas tax revenues to the general fund or any other non-transportation use, then, and only then, from increases in the tax.

Background
On August 10, 2005, President Bush signed into law the "Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Act: A Legacy for Users (PL 109-59). This ended a contentious two-year effort to reauthorize the nation's highway and transit programs. Highlights of SAFETEA-LU include:

  • $286.5 billion in funding over the six-year reauthorization that expires at the end of fiscal year 2009. The bill includes an obligation limit of $189.5 billion for highways and transit programs would receive $45.3 billion.
  • The overall spending amount represents a 38% increase over the funding in the previous reauthorization law, TEA-21. Each state would be guaranteed to receive at least 19% more than it received under TEA-21.
  • The bill increases the guaranteed amount each state receives back in gasoline taxes paid into the Highway Trust Fund. It will rise from the current 90.5% to 91.5% in fiscal year 2007 to 92% in fiscal years 2008 and 2009.
  • The bill includes $21.6 billion for bridge replacement and rehabilitation.
  • The bill designates the U.S. Department of Transportation as the lead agency in the environmental review process and includes procedures for streamlining the review process.
  • The bill removes the ability of states to opt-out of the use of qualifications-based selection on projects for engineering and design services funded by the new law.

NSPE References
Professional Policy No. 98 – Federal Financial Assistance to Public Transportation
Professional Policy No. 138 – Infrastructure Financing
Infrastructure Position Statement
Reauthorization of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act Position Statement

Issue Brief and Position: