Hoeven: House on Track to Pass Six-Year Highway Bill in Coming Weeks, Senate Passed Measure in July

Senator Outlines Senate Highway Legislation for N.D. Association of Counties

BISMARCK, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today outlined the Senate’s new six-year highway bill at the North Dakota Association of Counties’ ( NDACo) Annual Conference & Expo and told members that the House is close to passing a similar version in the next few weeks. The federal transportation measure will provide North Dakota with more than $1.6 billion. Hoeven said the formula is favorable to North Dakota and increases highway funding for the state to $270 million, about $30 million a year more than it now receives. The bill also includes two measures introduced by Hoeven: the Driver Privacy Act and the Distracted Driving Act, which he led with Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

The Senate in July passed its bipartisan, six-year highway bill, as well as a 90-day, short-term House measure that extended highway funding until October 29 while the House worked to finalize its own long-term bill. Last week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved a bipartisan six-year highway authorization measure, clearing the way for a House vote. The two bills are close, but another short-term extension of a few weeks may be necessary to reconcile the Senate and House versions, Hoeven said.

“We are very close to passing a new long-term highway bill, which is essential for the nation and for North Dakota,” Hoeven said. “Last year, North Dakota’s economy outperformed all other states in the nation. Importantly, the numbers reflect that our growth is coming from all industry sectors and regions across our state. To sustain this healthy rate of growth, we need strong infrastructure, which means building good roads, bridges and other projects on which our economy, literally, runs.”

The legislation will help to fund dozens of major projects statewide, including:

  • North Washington Street project in Bismarck: A $17 million project that would widen North Washington from Calgary Avenue to 57th Avenue, replace signal light crossings and level some of the roadway.
  • Construction on Highway 2 in western North Dakota
  • 12th Avenue in Fargo/West Fargo
  • Interstate 29 work near Fargo
  • ND Highway 200 near Cooperstown
  • ND Highway 20 south of Devils Lake

The Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act provides $350 billion in contract authority for the 2015-2021 period. The measure makes up for a lack of highway trust fund revenues by adding about $45 billion in offsets. The bill does not increase the deficit or taxes. DRIVE Act Highlights for North Dakota:

  • Increases Transportation Funding for North Dakota by maintaining the federal aid highway formula structure and increasing the amount each state will receive every year.
    • ND will receive an average of $270 million a year in formula funding over six years, an average of $30 million more than current state funding.
    • Makes completing transportation projects easier by making National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) reforms, cutting red tape.
    • Provides six years of increased funding, giving state and local governments the certainty and stability they need to improve and develop our nation’s transportation infrastructure.
    • Increases Transit Funding to North Dakota from more than $14 million in the first year to more than $17 million by the sixth year. The bill increases funding for public transportation by more than $2 billion over MAP-21 levels.
    • Improves Safety: The bill’s safety and regulatory title makes important enhancements for safer highways as well as freight and passenger rail service through effective implementation of new technologies, new tools for federal safety watchdog agencies, reforming grant programs for states and transparency that promotes accountability.
    • Includes a New National Freight Strategy and Strategic Plan to improve freight transportation networks that serve agriculture, retail, manufacturing and energy sectors.
    • Includes the Federal Permitting Improvement Act to improve the permitting process for major capital  projects across sectors, including energy.
    • Includes Funding Assistance for Major Projects (AMP) Program to provide grants for large projects of national or regional significance; includes at least a 20 percent set aside for rural areas.
    • Includes the Driver Privacy Act, legislation authored and sponsored by Hoeven to establish in law that the owner of a vehicle is also the owner of any information collected by an Event Data Recorder (EDR). Cosponsored by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).
    • Includes the Distracted Driving Act as part of the Senate Highway bill. The Distracted Driving Act, introduced with Sen. Klobuchar, will help more states access federal distracted driving grant program funds.