Huffman Votes to Pass Landmark Infrastructure Bill Through Committee

Bill Passes Out of Historic Virtual Committee Markup, Includes Key Huffman Amendments for California’s Second District

June 19, 2020

San Rafael, CA – Representative Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, joined the committee for an historic marathon virtual markup of the INVEST in America Act, which the committee approved last night. This legislation, introduced by Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), is a key part of the Moving Forward infrastructure framework that House Democrats released earlier this year and is expected to be considered on the House floor in the coming weeks.

“For too long, Congress has left our transportation systems on autopilot,” said Rep. Huffman. “This historic committee markup was a big step forward in tackling climate change and reducing transportation emissions, improving safety and reducing gridlock, while also ensuring that outdated and even dangerous bridges and roads receive the resources needed to bring them back to a state of good repair.”

On top of the transformative climate reforms, safety investments, and regional successes for California’s second district included in the initial version of the bill, the legislation as approved by the committee late last night incorporated several additional amendments from Rep. Huffman to do the following:

  • Vegetation Control: Working with Marin and Sonoma County, the bill was amended to ensure funding for clearance of roadside vegetation for the prevention of wildfires and assurance of safe passage on evacuation routes. Throughout California and much of the West, wildfires have emerged as a catastrophic problem causing billions of dollars of damage, leading to billions of dollars in federal expenditures, and – most tragically – taking countless lives.
  • Innovative Project Delivery: In order to encourage innovative project delivery to allow for faster, safer, and more efficient construction, the bill incorporates a proposal from Rep. Huffman to ensure that advanced digital systems, including digital three-dimensional modeling technologies, are eligible for federal incentives.
  • Wildlife Crossings: The INVEST Act would help improve the safety of both motorists and wildlife by reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions. The underlying legislation made historic improvements in this policy, and Rep. Huffman was successful at the markup in adding additional language to ensure workforce development and training to increase the skillset of transportation professionals to address these critical safety and environmental issues. The amendment also incorporates wildlife habitat connectivity in the National Bridge and Tunnel Inventory and Inspection standards to ensure that wildlife crossings and wildlife-vehicle collisions are considered in future bridge and tunnel repairs or replacements. Finally, the manger’s amendment also includes a significant investment of $300 million for projects and strategies to reduce vehicle-caused wildlife or restore and maintain connectivity for wildlife habitat, as advocated by Rep. Huffman’s earlier letter to the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee on May 7, 2020 joined by 36 other members.
  • Ferry Boat Programs: In addition to the provisions the Congressman secured for the North Bay and North Coast of California, the bill also contains an increase in funding for two ferry boat programs, including FTA’s Ferry Boat Discretionary program.

What Supporters are Saying:

“Among the many provisions that Congressman Huffman helped get into the transportation reauthorization bill were amendments just included today that will make roadside vegetation control eligible for federal funding.  This will help prevent the spread of wildfires, and also help assure the safe passage of emergency vehicles should wildfires strike.  We thank him for his efforts on this matter,” said Katie Rice, President, Marin County Board of Supervisors.

“We appreciate Congressman Huffman’s efforts to include $250 million for active transportation connectivity grants that might create spines to connect communities to each other, and also to connect points within a community.  Marin County has been in the forefront of such efforts and hope to further enhance what we have done with the funds from this bill,” said Damon Connolly, Marin County Supervisor.

“The House INVEST Act makes critical investments in our surface transportation system and provides new resources to ensure that those investments are protected.  We applaud Congressman Huffman’s work to ensure that Santa Rosa will have the tools and resources necessary to make our infrastructure more resilient to wildfires and other natural disasters,” said Santa Rosa Mayor Tom Schwedhelm.

“Despite the importance of ferry transportation in our area and many other locations around the country, only $30 million has been made available each year for the country’s competitive grant program for passenger ferry boat operators.  That happens to be about the amount required to purchase a single ferry boat that the Bridge District operates.  So, we have been working with our Delegation to get that amount increased, and are pleased that Congressman Huffman was able to get this program doubled, to $60 million.  While the Golden Gate Bridge District is not assured of receiving any funding from this discretionary program, we believe that the meritorious nature of our projects will make us very competitive for these monies, and that we will ultimately receive even more funding in the future than we have with our successful efforts in the past, to the benefit of our ferry customers, and everybody who travels across the Golden Gate,” said Denis Mulligan, General Manager of the  Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District.

“When wildlife come to highways and roads, it’s a matter of life and death — for people and the wildlife alike. Thanks to Congressman Huffman and Chairman DeFazio for allocating funding to improve wildlife crossings to prevent often-fatal collisions and ensure everyone can migrate safely — whether by car, truck, hoof or paw,” said Mike Leahy, director of wildlife, hunting and fishing policy at the National Wildlife Federation. “This bill is an important step forward in modernizing our transportation infrastructure and making serious progress on climate.”

“Wildlife crossings are an essential tool in reducing wildlife vehicle collisions on our nation’s highways, and we appreciate Congressman Huffman’s leadership to ensure that these projects are prioritized in the INVEST in America Act. Overpasses, underpasses, and culverts that reduce both human and wildlife mortality are commonsense measures that improve the safety of our nation’s infrastructure. These innovative enhancements require investment at the federal level, and hunters and anglers look forward to working with the House and Senate to ensure these critical projects receive the dedicated funding they need,” said Whit Fosburgh, President and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

“From pronghorn antelope at Yellowstone to Santa Monica mountain lions, park wildlife face challenges ranging from climate change to development to simply and safely crossing the road. Every year, collisions lead to human and wildlife injuries and mortalities, and cost taxpayers billions. The National Parks Conservation Association commends Representative Huffman and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s commitment to invest at the local, tribal, and federal level to better protect both wildlife and motorists,” said Bart Melton, Wildlife Program Director for the National Parks Conservation Association.

Access the Bill text by clicking here.

Access the Factsheet by clicking here.

Access the Bill Summary by clicking here.

Access the Section-by-Section by clicking here.