Government Affairs

US DOT Announces Airport Grants 

The US DOT announced yesterday that the Trump Administration will award more than $273 million in airport safety and infrastructure grants through the FAA.

“This $273 million federal investment in our nation’s airports will strengthen safety, improve travel, generate jobs, and benefit local communities,” says US DOT Secretary Elaine L. Chao. The grants will go to 41 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Palau, and Puerto Rico.

A complete listing of grants and an interactive map of airports receiving funding is available on the FAA website. The funding amount includes more than $242 million in AIP funds and $31 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act grants.

The grants will be used for critical infrastructure and safety projects, including constructing and repairing runways and taxiways. The funds will also be used for other purposes, including airport master plan studies, installing aircraft lighting and signage, other safety & security measures.


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ACPA Participates in AHUA Roundtable

ACPA participated in a roundtable discussion by web yesterday.

Featured presenters included Clare Doherty, Staff Director of the House Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations; Michael Falencki, Minority Staff Director for the  House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit (T&I Committee); Rebecca Higgins, Senior Policy Advisor for the Senate EPW Committee;  Richard Russell, Senate EPW Staff Director; and Aruna Kalyanam, Majority Tax Counsel for the House Ways & Means Committee.

The officials presented updates on highway and airport relief funding, as well as long-term investment measures, including the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA), which Rebecca Higgins suggested Senate Democrats are in favor of passing and going to conference with the House passed bill. As we reported, ATIA was passed by the Senate last year.  Looking ahead at the Senate’s Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act, Senator McConnell’s proposal included a $13 billion THUD portion, with about $10 billion designated mostly for airports to maintain operations, and no funds designated for State DOTs.

Laura Perrotta, AHUA President and CEO, highlighted a new highway funding advocacy campaign called #fightforhighways and underscored how important it is that Congress acts on relief funding for DOTs to help ensure projects don’t get delayed or cancelled moving forward. Look for more information about this campaign in a special issue of ACPA TODAY, which will be published tomorrow (Thursday).


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Officials Announce NEPA Final Rule

The White House announced last week sweeping changes to federal environmental policy as the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released a notice for its final rule, titled “Update to the Regulations Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act,” or NEPA.

The final rule modernizes and clarifies the regulations to facilitate more efficient, effective, and timely NEPA reviews by improving interagency coordination, promoting earlier public involvement, increasing transparency, and enhancing the participation of States, Tribes, and localities, the CEQ says. The final rule will advance the original goals of the regulations to reduce paperwork, delays, and promote better decision-making.

 “This final rule provides a much needed and long overdue update to the nation’s far-reaching environmental policy and brings to bear some practical improvements to NEPA’s critical review process,” says Leif Wathne, ACPA Executive Vice president. “We believe the final rule will help facilitate a more efficient process for approving highway, airport, and other critical infrastructure projects throughout the nation.”

“ACPA strongly supports environmental review and views it as both necessary and essential to sustainable construction practices that we support,” Leif says, adding, “The changes to NEPA bring the policy into the 21st century and will have a significant positive impact on efficient construction of safe highways, roadways, airports and other surface transportation elements.”

“We’re encouraged by the changes and believe that they are particularly timely at a time when infrastructure investment is sorely needed to help the United States recover from the devastating economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he says.

For more information, click here to see links to the final rule, redlined changes, and a factsheet. Click here to see the Administration’s perspectives on this rule and other measures aimed at reducing burdensome, outdated regulations.


Caption: Illustration shows detail from a CEQ report on timelines for environmental impact studies. The illustration underscores the lengthy process for environmental reviews, a long-standing issue that the NEPA final rule addresses.

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Biden Proposes Infrastructure Plan

Democratic presumptive nominee Joe Biden last week unveiled the second pillar of his “Build Back Better” economic recovery plan with a $2 trillion clean energy and infrastructure plan, according to ASCE’s Infrastructure Report Card.

The plan is focused on speeding up the transition to cleaner energy for transportation and buildings, in addition to prioritizing environmental justice.

The former vice president and presidential hopeful noted that we need “modern infrastructure and a clean energy future,” adding these are investments we should be making anyway. Also quoting ASCE, he mentioned that one in five miles of our nation’s highways are in poor condition.

The former vice president’s proposal, which did not include financing specifics, aimed to achieve carbon-free power generation by 2035, emphasizing that “we can transform the American electrical sector by producing power without producing carbon pollution.”

This climate-focused plan, he says, would also create millions of jobs in construction, skilled trades, and engineering. One specific highway-related proposal is jobs creation to rebuild America’s infrastructure from roads and bridges to green spaces and water systems, to electricity grids and broadband infrastructure, sustainably, to withstand the impacts of climate change and improve public health–including access to clean air and water.

The former vice president previously proposed a $1.3 trillion infrastructure plan in November 2019.


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ACPA and Coalition Allies Continue Raising Awareness for State DOT Funding

ACPA and 39 other coalition members* sent a letter to House and Senate Majority and Minority Leaders (with copies to all US Senators) urging support of an immediate infusion of at least $37 billion to state departments of transportation. This is based on updated state dot revenue estimates over five years (through FY 2024), with an estimated loss of $16 billion in FY 2020.

The coalition expressed gratitude to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy for their continued leadership in providing “stability and relief to the American people and the U.S. economy that are reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The organizations emphasized that the funding will “ensure the delivery of planned transportation projects whose benefits will extend far beyond this pandemic and forestall further job losses in the public and private sectors.”

The letter emphasizes that state motor fuel tax and toll receipts dropped nationwide as vehicle traffic reduction bottomed out at about 50 percent during the height of the pandemic. This severe drop in revenues threatens the ability of state DOTs to carry out their core functions, including capital construction programs. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, many state DOTs have imposed furloughs and delayed or cancelled $8.6 billion in critical transportation projects, putting at risk transportation construction jobs and the timely realization of benefits those projects bring to communities and commerce.”

The message in this letter is similar to those sent by ACPA and coalition partners, including AHUA, the HMG, TCC, and State DOTs, ACPA-chapters, and other dozens of organizations in the past few months. This messaging strategy is an important and effective way to inform Congress and ensure elected officials understand and respond to the dire situation our state DOTs are facing.  Click here to see the complete letter.


*  The coalition included the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, American Coal Ash Association, American Concrete Pavement Association, American Concrete Pipe Association, American Council of Engineering Companies, American Council of Engineering Companies of Arizona, American Highway Users Alliance, American Institute of Steel Construction, American Iron and Steel Institute, American Public Works Association, American Road & Transportation Builders Association, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Subcontractors Association, American Traffic Safety Services Association, Arizona Rock Products Association, Arizona Society of Professional Engineers, Associated Equipment Distributors, Associated General Contractors of America, Association for the Improvement of American Infrastructure, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute, Ergon Asphalt & Emulsions, Inc., Greyhound Lines, Inc., Intelligent Transportation Society of America, International Union of Operating Engineers, Laborers’ International Union of North America, Maryland Asphalt Association, Mid-West Truckers Association, National Asphalt Pavement Association, National Association of Surety Bond Producers, National Electrical Contractors Association, National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, National Steel Bridge Alliance, National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, National Utility Contractors Association, Portland Cement Association, Potters Industries, Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute, Rural Transportation Advocacy Council, and Volvo Group North America.

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