This Tuesday, the U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee introduced the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, a new five-year transportation reauthorization proposal of federal highway, transit and highway safety programs. This bill would replace the existing six-year highway authorization bill that expired in September 2009 (funding has been maintained at current levels since then). The proposal would authorize approximately $260B in total funding over five years compared with the last highway bill which authorized $286B over a six-year period. Notably, the initial proposal introduced Tuesday included a provision that would allow states to increase truck weight limits on interstate highways to 97,000 from the current limit of 80,000 pounds. However, this language was subsequently removed from the bill yesterday and replaced with an amendment that would authorize a study of the impact of heavier trucks on safety and roads. The legislation still allows for states to increase truck lengths on interstate highways from the current limit of 28-foot double trailers to 33-foot double long trailers. Among many other provisions in the 850-page bill, the highway proposal would also reduce Amtrak’s federal subsidy, keep overall transit funding at similar levels of about $10B annually, and delay mandatory implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) to December 31, 2020 versus the current deadline of December 31, 2015. There is also language that would potentially allow the rails to submit alternative approaches to risk reduction on rail lines that would otherwise require PTC installation.
Source: Wolfe Trahan, PTC