To maintain the high quality of life we expect in our state, I am working to ensure that we invest in transportation infrastructure and improvements to move people and products safely and efficiently in our communities. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I continue to work to improve and expand roads, bridges, airports and rail systems in North Dakota.
A new five-year highway bill
In December 2015, Congress approved a new long-term highway bill that will provide North Dakota with more than $1.3 billion and enable more than 100 North Dakota transportation projects to advance. The formula is favorable to North Dakota and increases annual highway funding for the state to $263 million, about $23 million a year more than it currently receives. The bill also provides a total of $76 million over five years for transit projects in North Dakota.
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST) Act reauthorizes the nation’s transportation programs for five years. The bill provides contract authority for the 2015 to 2020 period. The measure is fully paid for and makes up for a lack of highway trust fund revenues by adding about $70 billion in offsets.
These investments will create new jobs, provide a sustained boost to our nation’s economy and help keep America and North Dakota competitive in the global marketplace. Importantly, it does so without raising taxes or increasing the deficit.
The bill also includes my Driver Privacy Act, legislation that establishes in law that the owner of a vehicle is also the owner of any information collected by an Event Data Recorder (EDR). I was joined on the legislation by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). Hoeven also teamed with Klobuchar to pass the Distracted Driving Act, bipartisan legislation that will help more states access a federal distracted driving grant program.
Importantly for farmers and ranchers in North Dakota and across the nation, the bill restores $3 billion that was cut from crop insurance in the budget agreement forged in October. Hoeven worked as a member of the Agriculture Committee to reverse efforts to further cut crop insurance funding, which has already been reduced by $12 billion since 2008.
Railroad Safety and Infrastructure
Keeping our communities along rail lines safe is one of our highest priorities. To improve rail safety and reduce the risk of accidents, I have been working with industry and government officials at all levels, including the Federal Railroad Administration, DOT, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to push for the speedy and effective implementation of policies needed to make transporting oil and gas by rail safer. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I worked on provisions to increase inspectors and track inspections, to make sure products are shipped in the right containers, to implement positive train control (PTC) technology, enhanced emergency response training and to issue guidelines for safer tanker car construction. These measures will help to prevent accidents in the first place, and to mitigate their impact when they do occur.
North Dakota airports are serving a record number of passengers each year. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I secure funding for airport grant programs that help to renovate and construct runways, terminals, aprons, and other airport infrastructure at airports across North Dakota, including for the new terminal at Minot International Airport. To build federal support for our airports, I hosted the head of Federal Aviation Administration in North Dakota to show him firsthand our growth and the importance of building up our infrastructure. I continue working with state and local airport officials to attract new carriers and flights and to plan for the future of our airports, including building a new airport in Dickinson.