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United States : Inhofe Praises Oklahoma Provisions in Americas Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019.

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, praised the unanimous committee passage of Americas Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019 and announced provisions in the legislation that will benefit Oklahoma. Inhofes provisions focus on the future of Oklahoma, specifically: sufficient funding to prioritize Oklahoma highway projects, using freight dollars to modernize MKARNS to support economic development and agriculture throughout the state, streamlining regulations to get projects off the ground faster and promoting workforce development.

I have always said there are two main things we should be doing here in Congress, building roads and defending America, Inhofe said. I am pleased Americas Transportation Infrastructure Act passed through committee todaytrue bipartisanship at work. Im pleased this legislation contains provisions I authored to benefit Oklahomans, including making sure we get our fair share in federal highway funds, prioritizing the repair of our bridges and getting projects off the ground faster by streamlining permitting requirements. Additionally, the bill amends existing freight programs to allow the state flexibility to modernize the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System and apply for federal INFRA grants, designed for projects of regional significance. It creates meaningful workforce development opportunities to train the next generation of engineers, technicians and workers to build, repair and maintain our infrastructure. Im glad this committee and this administration are taking the importance of funding Americas infrastructure seriously and I look forward to this legislations swift consideration on the Senate floor.

Building on the successes of Inhofes FAST Act, Americas Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019 is the largest amount of funding provided for highway reauthorization legislation in history. The bill authorizes $287 billion from the Highway Trust Fund over five years in investments to maintain and repair Americas roads and bridges and to keep our economy moving. The legislation includes provisions to improve road safety, accelerate project delivery, improve resiliency to disasters, reduce highway emissions and grow the economy.

The following provisions in Americas Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019 will directly benefit the state of Oklahoma:

Apportionment: Under Americas Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019, Oklahoma will receive $802 million the first year the legislation is enacted, $100 million more than currently under the FAST Act. For the full five years of authorization, Oklahoma will receive $4.2 billion guaranteeing that Oklahoma continues to receive its fair share of federal fuel tax revenue for Oklahoma roads and bridges. This would be the largest infrastructure investment in Oklahoma history. Before 2005, Oklahoma was a donor state to the Highway Trust Fund, paying more in taxes than was being received in highway funds. Sen. Inhofe changed that when he authored the FAST Act, by creating a fair formula for apportionment so Oklahoma was no longer a donor state to the Highway Trust Fund.

National Freight Program: This provision continues the National Highway Freight Program created in Inhofes FAST Act, which provides funds to improve goods movement, reducing costs and improving performance for businesses and individuals. Under this program, Oklahoma will receive $137 million over five years dedicated to improving freight corridors and associated assets allowing for local businesses and farmers to transport products and materials more efficiently, cutting down costs for them and their consumers. Additionally, Inhofe authored a provision that will make it possible for states to direct funding from the existing freight program to modernize and deepen federal marine highway corridors instrumental to the movement of waterborne freight, like the MKARNS. This investment would make the movement of freight along recognized transportation corridors more efficient, relieving congestion and wear and tear on our nations highways, allowing federal dollars to get more mileage.

Environmental streamlining: This provision builds on the streamlining provisions Sen. Inhofe helped negotiate in the last highway reauthorization bill, the FAST Act. It establishes that the environmental review process should be completed in two years, with the codification of the One Federal Decision policy that would accelerate project delivery, allowing for the review, permitting, and approval processes to be conducted more efficiently, saving Oklahoma time and money when starting new infrastructure projects.

Workforce Development: This provision would empower additional workforce development opportunities through current DOT programs, including pre-apprenticeship programs and vocational training opportunities for construction workers. These changes will help Oklahoma address our current workforce gaps as well as future workforce needs resulting from emerging technology. It also modifies an existing grant program that authorizes the Secretary to award grants to educational institutions and State DOTs to provide hands-on career opportunities to meet current and future needs.

Bridges: The Bridge Investment Act, included in todays highway package, establishes new opportunities for Oklahoma state and local governments to invest in bridges both on and off the National Highway System. Because of Inhofes work in the FAST Act, Oklahoma is a leader in having the fewest number of structurally deficient highway system bridges, but more work remains on hundreds of bridges in Oklahoma. The Bridge Investment Act provisions gives Oklahoma additional tools to continue to address bridges across the state in need of repair or replacement. In total, this legislation provides up to $6.6 billion over five years to address the national backlog of bridge maintenance.

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Publication:Mena Report
Geographic Code:1U7OK
Date:Jul 31, 2019
Words:872
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