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U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx yesterday sent to Congress a six-year, $478 billion transportation reauthorization bill that would improve the nation's "crumbling infrastructure."The bill, a revised version of President Barack Obama's proposed GROW America Act, would provide funding certainty to states and local communities to pursue projects that would repair and improve roads, bridges, railroads and transit systems."All over the country, I hear the same account: the need to repair and expand our surface transportation system has never been greater, and yet federal transportation funding has never been in such short supply," Foxx said in a press release. "This is an opportunity to break away from 10 years of flat funding, not to mention these past six years in which Congress has funded transportation by passing 32 short-term measures."Specifically, the bill would:• establish an $18 billion freight program;• increase transit funding by 76 percent;• streamline the project permitting process;• increase "innovative financing" by strengthening the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) and Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan programs, by making more Private Activity Bonds (PABS) available, and by nearly doubling funding for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program; and• provide more funding to Metropolitan Planning Organizations.Congress must act soon on a transportation funding measure, as an extension of the existing law, MAP-21, is set to expire May 31."It is clear to me that transportation is still a bipartisan issue, and I am really encouraged to see members of both parties working to get something done," Foxx said. "During these next two months, though, all of us who work in Washington need to be relentless in trying to get to ‘yes’ on a bill that is truly transformative and that brings the country together."
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