Sullivan, Senate EPW Advance $303 Billion Infrastructure Authorization Bill
Authorization includes $3.5 billion for Alaska over five years
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) this week joined his colleagues on the Environment & Public Works Committee (EPW) in advancing out committee the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act (STRA) of 2021, a bill authorizing $303.5 billion from the Highway Trust Fund from Fiscal Year 2022 through 2026, and $3.5 billion for Alaska over five years. STRArepresents a 34 percent increase beyond the previous long-term highway authorization, the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, passed and signed into law in 2015.
“This is the third time during my tenure that Republicans and Democrats on the EPW committee have been able to craft a very significant bipartisan highway bill that helps our fellow Americans and gives states the long-term funding certainty they need to successfully plan for the future,” said Senator Sullivan. “As a relatively young state, Alaska lacks the robust infrastructure enjoyed by other parts of the country, and we count on these major federal investments to establish the core transportation networks—roads, bridges, and ferries—that other Americans may take for granted. The STRA that we passed out of committee rises to this task, with a particular focus on supporting rural communities, dedicating $3.5 billion to our state over five years. The package also continues my efforts to streamline the federal regulatory process, so that vital infrastructure projects can be realized in a timely and responsible manner. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate and House and members of the administration to ensure the successes in the bill passed out of committee are secured in the final legislation.”
In addition to the significant overall funding authorization for the state, STRA includes a number of crucial provisions for Alaska. STRA:
- Authorizes $2 billion over five years for a new grant program to improve and expand surface transportation systems in rural areas.
- Authorizes nearly $3 billion for the Tribal Transportation Program over five years, creates an Office of Tribal Government Affairs within the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), and restores dedicated funding for the Tribal High Priority Projects Program.
- Increases funding for the National Ferry Program to $118 million by FY 2026 for the construction of ferry boats and ferry terminal facilities, a significant portion of which would benefit Alaska.
- Provides new flexibility to apply funding to ice roads and rural barge landing, dock, and waterfront projects.
- Authorizes an additional $20 million annually for the Denali Commission to address regional infrastructure needs of rural Alaska communities, and provides authority to better facilitate gifting of funds from other federal agencies through intergovernmental transfers.
- Codifies the core elements of the “one federal decision policy” for major transportation projects, including establishing a two-year goal for completion of environmental reviews.
- Reinstates the authorization for the Shakwak Project, an agreement between the U.S. and Canada to reconstruct and maintain the 325 miles of the Haines Road and the Alaska Highway within Canada.
- Authorizes more than $3 billion over five years for a new Bridge Investment Program to address the backlog of bridge repair and rehabilitation projects.
- Creates a new Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation (PROTECT) Program, which provides $7.3 billion in formula funding to states and $1.4 billion for competitive grants to make resiliency improvements to protect against the effects of extreme weather and natural disasters, and contains a set-aside in the competitive grant funding for at-risk coastal infrastructure and evacuation routes.
- Incorporates the Connecting America’s Active Transportation System Act to authorize $1 billion over the life of the bill for a new competitive grant program to provide focused funding to build safe and connected options for bicycles and pedestrians, and includes a large increase for the Transportation Alternatives Program which supports bike and pedestrian projects.
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