DOT Gets Funding Increase in $1.7 Trillion Federal Budget
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The spending budget for the federal government’s fiscal 2023 includes an increase in funding for the Department of Transportation that is higher than the level requested by the White House.
The $1.7 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 — which advanced through the U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 23 after moving through the Senate the day before — allocates $106.3 billion to DOT and its agencies, $3.4 billion more than the agency received a year ago and $1.9 billion more than the White House requested. The funding will support, among other things, national infrastructure improvements via grants to states, municipalities, Tribal authorities and metropolitan planning organizations. In particular, the bill includes $800 million for national infrastructure investment grants.
“We have a big bill here, because we have big needs for our country,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who thanked House Appropriations Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Senate Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senate Vice Chair Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) for their bipartisan support. President Joe Biden vowed to sign the legislation “as soon as it reaches my desk,” a move that isn’t expected until Dec. 30, when temporary funding for the government was set to run out. Biden praised the measure.
“This bill is good for our economy, our competitiveness and our communities,” he said Dec. 23. “This bill is further proof that Republicans and Democrats can come together to deliver for the American people, and I’m looking forward to continued bipartisan progress in the year ahead.”
The bill allocates $873.6 million to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is part of DOT. That includes $42.7 million for its commercial driver license implementation program, and $15 million for autonomous vehicle research in rural communities. There also is $5 million for commercial motor vehicle enforcement training and support and $1.2 million for a commercial motor vehicle operators grant program.
The bill allocates $62.9 billion to the Federal Highway Administration, another DOT agency. That total includes $3.4 billion for highway infrastructure programs/projects.
Congress also directed FHWA to continue to research, develop and deploy resilient infrastructure with new and proven technologies; develop pilot projects for wildlife crossings at roadways; and to work with state departments of transportation and local governments on interstate projects in the inter-mountain West. This includes improvements to interstates 10, 11 and 17, expanding U.S. 95, studying a new 50-mile transportation route in Arizona between I-10 and U.S. 60 called the North-South corridor study in Pinal County, and completing the access-controlled Sonoran corridor in Arizona from I-19 and I-10.
Congress in the bill also encouraged Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to consider awarding “mega” grants for large, complex projects that may be difficult to fund, but which are likely to offer national or regional improvements, such as development of coastal and inland ports “to facilitate an efficient supply chain.”
The bill provides $1.2 billion for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and directed it to spend up to $9 million on testing of automated vehicles. Also included is up to $3.5 million for virtual modeling and simulation to assess and validate AV use.
Congress also directed NHTSA to within 90 days of the funding bill’s enactment provide a report on the agency’s current research and rulemakings regarding safe deployment of AV technology.
One safety initiative directed specifically at heavy trucks urged NHTSA to advance a rulemaking initiated in 2014 to “improve visibility of commercial trucks over 10,000 pounds by requiring them to have reflective markings” using conspicuity tape.
NHTSA also was encouraged to use digital alert technology to provide up-to-date information on road conditions to assist drivers while also deploying it with local law enforcement.
The funding measure also provides $896 million to the Maritime Administration, which is $56.4 million above Biden’s budget request. That total includes $212 million for port infrastructure development, with 25% earmarked to fund projects to improve small inland river and coastal ports and terminals. The agency also was directed to work with the Federal Maritime Commission, Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security to support transitioning to wider use of secure composite shipping containers “to provide increased security, shipment visibility and cargo facilitation.”
To advance the use of electric vehicles and green initiatives, the Department of Energy will receive $350 million. That’s up $73 million from last year and is $53 million above the president’s request. The funding is intended to advance technologies to improve the resiliency and efficiency of the nation’s electricity delivery system, and incorporate more clean energy technologies. DOE also will see a $65 million annual increase to $890 million for fossil energy and carbon management.
The total funding package, according to the House Appropriations Committee, includes $800 billion in non-defense funding, an increase of $68 billion above last year. The legislation said this amount is, “the highest level for non-defense funding ever, and a larger increase in both dollar and percentage than fiscal year 2022.”
Source: Transport Topics