Industry to USDOT: Use IIJA Funds to Address Supply Chain IssuesWritten by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
Nearly 60 transportation, manufacturing and construction industry groups are calling on U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to “dedicate as much as allowable by law in discretionary grants for FY 2022 to support projects that will facilitate and ease the movement of goods.”
Their joint letter, dated April 26, 2022, was about how to best target the billions of dollars in new resources made available by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)/Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), which was signed Nov. 15, 2021.
The stakeholders—including the Association of American Railroads, American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA), American Trucking Associations, Intermodal Association of North America, National Coal Transportation Association, and National Association of Manufacturers—told the Secretary that “[w]ith multi-modal traffic patterns returning to pre-pandemic levels while the supply-chain problems persist, the U.S. Department of Transportation should focus the $18 billion in INFRA, MEGA and CRISI grant programs put forward over the next five years on making the physical improvements necessary to address these issues.” (Download the letter below).
Secretary Buttigieg, at a U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing held earlier this month, testified that with INFRA/BIL, USDOT “is now in a much stronger position to help build the transportation future the American people need and deserve: one that is safer, more efficient, and more affordable for everyone, from families transporting kids to businesses moving goods.”
He reported that in Fiscal Year 2023, “we are poised to build on early progress with a President’s budget for the Department of Transportation that totals $142 billion, including $36.8 billion in advance appropriations provided by the infrastructure law.” Among the highlights he pointed out:
• “With $4 billion for RAISE and the new Mega program, we will rebuild century old infrastructure and lay the groundwork for America to compete and win in decades ahead.”
• “We will invest a total of $17.9 billion to reverse decades of underinvestment in intercity passenger rail and make fast, reliable train service available to more people.”
• “And to keep making progress on supply chains to help move goods faster and fight inflation, we will invest a total of $680 million to modernize ports, $3 billion to improve the roadways that carry the majority of America’s freight, and a total of $1.5 billion for CRISI grants to improve freight rail.”
In related developments, FRA Deputy Administrator Jennifer Mitchell discussed agency priorities and how small roads can best position themselves for CRISI program grants, among other issues, during the ASLRRA’s May 1-3 conference and exhibition in St. Louis, Mo.