by Louis J. Jenny, Richard Thomas, & Andrew Ausel | October 22, 2015
With a looming October 29 deadline, this week the bipartisan leadership of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee introduced H. R. 3763, a bill to reauthorize surface transportation programs. The bill would cover six years to the tune of $325 billion.
The bill retains a DBIA-supported provision in current law that encourages the use of design-build. Other provisions in the bill encouraging states to bundle bridge projects and ease congestion in urban areas could further encourage the use of design-build. Furthermore, there are provisions designed to accelerate project delivery and increase flexibility, which could promote the use of alternative project delivery. Additionally, funds are appropriated for education and training related to engineering, architectural design and turnkey approaches to delivering projects, construction management and innovative financing.
The bill would also create a National Surface Transportation and Innovative Finance Bureau which appears to be designed to examine public-private partnerships, compare project delivery methods and produce procurement benchmarks. DBIA is examining these provisions.
This latest bill is an important step in the ongoing congressional effort to reauthorize transportation programs that expire this month. The Senate passed a similar bill, the DRIVE Act, earlier this year. The primary debate surrounding both of these bills is finding appropriate revenue. Both chambers have traditionally agreed on the need for funding transportation programs; however Democrats and Republicans continue to clash on revenue sources.
The House committee is scheduled to consider the bill today, then the House Ways and Means Committee needs to finalize the funding mechanism. Following this, presumably a bill will be ready for the full House to consider. With authorization of transportation programs set to expire next week, another short-term extension is likely.