Amendment to the House’s INVEST Act would help to close the repair loopholes

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UPDATE: The House’s transportation bill is being debated and voted on starting tomorrow (Wednesday, June 17th), and a vital new amendment would strengthen the repair provisions in the bill, helping to strengthen the bill’s language and better align it with the legislative goal of prioritizing maintenance over new road capacity.

The House transportation committee’s markup of the INVEST Act starts at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 17th. View our amendment tracker here, get real-time updates by following @t4america on Twitter, and take action by sending a message to your representative if they sit on this House committee.

As we wrote last week about some of the shortcomings in the INVEST Act’s repair provisions

When we first read through the INVEST Act last week we were excited to see that the committee clearly made a good faith effort to prioritize maintenance and after a cursory look we were inclined to give it a passing grade on our first principle of prioritizing repair. But the deeper we looked into the language, the more we saw the loopholes. …the INVEST Act’s fix-it-first language still needs to be strengthened to ensure a true focus on prioritizing repairing what we have before building new things that come with expensive, long-term repair costs. There were three misses in the House’s approach, but all can be fixed if the House is truly committed to ensuring that we preserve and maintain our existing transportation network.

We’re pleased to report that there has been a bipartisan amendment offered for tomorrow’s markup that would address the concerns outlined last week. Amendment #63 from Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL), co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), would make three important changes: 

1) Require a maintenance plan
If your state or metro area wants to use core highway dollars for building new capacity, then they must present a financial plan for maintaining it. This is already true for transit, and it should be true for roads. The amendment would require a public plan for maintaining the new road while also maintaining the existing system. It is vital that we finally start requiring states to prove they can maintain what they’re building with the billions that they are given.

2) It will be hard to justify new road capacity with level-of-service.
The INVEST Act requires states planning new capacity road projects to perform benefit-costs analyses (BCAs), but this amendment requires them to use demand models with a demonstrated track record of accuracy. E.g., not the outdated level-of-service metrics so often used to justify building new roads.

3) Require a more complete accounting of the benefits and costs.
The INVEST Act includes a new host of performance measures, including greenhouse gas emissions, and access to jobs and services. This amendment would require states planning new capacity projects to consider the benefits of ALL the performance measures, including new ones created by the bill—rather than just the narrow measure of “congestion reduction,” which is so often used to justify projects which just induce new driving, fail to solve congestion, and in fact just create more of it. 

We’ll be keeping tabs on this amendment and others that are going to be considered as the House transportation committee starts debating and voting on these amendments starting at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 17th. Learn more about amendments and view our tracker here.

For those of you that live in a district represented by a Member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, you can send a message to your rep with this page and urge them to support the INVEST Act and to support this very necessary amendment. If you’re not sure if your rep is on the committee, just go on over to take action and the form will let you know.

TAKE ACTION

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