$287bn US highways bill is “largest legislation in history”

After months of negotiations, a bipartisan group US Senators will introduce a bill authorising the government to spend a whopping $287bn road transport infrastructure over the next five years, calling it "the largest highway legislation in history".

Called "America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019", the bill is is being put forward by John Barrasso (R-WY), Tom Carper (D-DE), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Ben Cardin (D-MD). 

The total spend is an increase of 27% on currently legislated levels. The senators said the legislation includes provisions to improve road safety, streamline project delivery, protect the environment and grow the economy.

Of the total, $259bn would go on formula programmes to maintain and repair roads and bridges, said the senators, all members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW).

"Every American benefits from better roads and bridges," said Barrasso.

He added: "By modernising our roads and bridges, we can make the roads safer for every family driving on them. The bill cuts Washington red tape, so road construction can get done faster, better, cheaper, and smarter. It will help create jobs and support our strong, growing, and healthy economy. Infrastructure is critical to our country and we should responsibly pay for this legislation."

Tom Carper said the bill would make the country’s transport infrastructure "work better for every American in every zip code".

He added that the bill includes the "first-ever climate title in a highway bill", and would invest $10bn in policies and projects to cut emissions and boost resilience against natural disasters and weather events.

Current funding legislation has more than a year to run, so the bill, if passed in Congress, will not take immediate effect.

Image: Cracking on State Route 12 in Clallam County, Washington, United States (Adam Dubrowa/FEMA/Public domain)

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