EMERGENCY RELIEF RESERVE ACT OF 2000
This bill would establish a highway Emergency Relief Reserve to supplement current Emergency Relief funding; increase funding for several highway programs, including an additional $221,500,000 for implementation or execution of research and technology programs under chapter 5 of title 23, U.S.C.; and allocate a portion of Revenue Aligned Budget Authority (RABA) to support transportation priorities for improving safety, mobility, and economic development.
SECTION 1. Section 1 sets forth the short title for the act as the "Emergency Relief Reserve Act of 2000." This section also includes a table of contents.
SECTION 2. EMERGENCY RELIEF RESERVE. Section 2 amends section 125(c) of title 23, U.S.C., to create an Emergency Relief Reserve. This fund makes available $398,000,000 in contract authority for each of fiscal years 2001 through 2003 for the repair or reconstruction of highways, roads, and trails that have suffered serious damage as the result of natural disasters or catastrophic failures from any external cause. The Emergency Relief Reserve becomes available when the $100,000,000 authorized in section 125(c)(1) for the primary emergency relief fund has been exhausted. Although the $100,000,000 primary fund is not subject to the obligation limitations in section 1102(a) of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) (Pub. L. 105-178; 112 Stat. 107), the additional $398,000,000 in reserve funding would be subject to the obligation limitation.
The Emergency Relief Reserve would address anticipated new disaster needs and eliminate the current backlog of these needs over the next three years, providing relief to communities that have suffered through natural disasters.
SECTION 3. RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS. Development and implementation of new technology can assist the Department in achieving its goals of improving safety, mobility, economic competitiveness, environmental protection, and security, while meeting increased demands on the transportation system. Section 3 would make available an additional $221,500,000 in contract authority for research and technology programs under chapter 5 of title 23. The additional funding would allow the Department to pursue more comprehensive research programs, advance deployment of new technology, and expand research and technology partnership initiatives. Also, funding would be increased for the highway safety research and development programs of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Subsection (a) amends section 5001(a)(1) of TEA-21 to increase the authorization for Surface Transportation Research to $150,800,000 for each of fiscal years 2001 through 2003. The increased funding includes the following initiatives: $40,000,000 for critical needs in support of mobility, safety, productivity, and human and natural environment goals; $3,000,000 for Fatigue and Human Factors; $5,500,000 for Information Sharing/Data Standardization; $1,000,000 for Technology Sharing and Transfer; and $3,300,000 for the Aging America comprehensive needs assessment.
Subsection (b) amends section 5001(a)(2) of TEA-21 to increase the authorization for the Technology Deployment Program to $89,700,000 for each of fiscal years 2001 through 2003. Included in the increased funding is $18,700,000 for the Nationwide Differential Global Positioning System (NDGPS) initiative; $20,000,000 for the Advanced Vehicle Technologies Program (AVP); and $6,000,000 for essential technology deployment efforts in support of strategic goals.
Subsection (c) amends section 5001(a)(3) of TEA-21 to increase the authorization for Training and Education to $22,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2001 through 2003.
Subsection (d) amends section 5001(a)(6) of TEA-21 to increase the authorization for ITS Deployment to $238,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2001 through 2003. The increased funding would make available $40,000,000 for CVISN Deployment Incentives, $40,000,000 for rural ITS Deployment Incentives, and $40,000,000 for Regional Model Deployment.
Subsection (e) amends section 2009(a)(2) of TEA-21 to increase the authorization for the highway safety research and development programs of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from $72,000,000 to $88,959,000 for each of fiscal years 2001 through 2003.
SECTION 4. MISCELLANEOUS HIGHWAY PROGRAMS.
Subsection (a) amends section 1101(a)(9) of TEA-21 to increase the authorization for the National Corridor Planning and Development and Coordinated Border Infrastructure Programs from $140,000,000 to $280,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2001 through 2003. The corridors and borders grants support projects that directly improve safety, productivity, and mobility. The increased funding for these grants would further the Department's strategic goals by supporting projects that result in expanded vehicle safety inspection capacity, railroad-highway grade separations, improved functioning of facilities near border stations, diversion of traffic from 2-lane highways to 4-lane divided highways, continued development of multi-state corridors, and providing high-quality highway capacity to areas that need economic development.
Subsection (b) amends section 1221(e)(1) of TEA-21 to increase the authorization for the Transportation and Community and System Preservation Pilot Program from $25,000,000 to $50,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2001 through 2003. With increased funding, the Federal Highway Administration can expand the number of participating communities, while encouraging communities to develop innovative strategies to use transportation investments and operations to help build livable communities.
SECTION 5. REVENUE ALIGNED BUDGET AUTHORITY.
TEA-21 provides that obligations for the Federal-aid highway and motor carrier programs are adjusted to reflect revised receipt estimates for the Highway Account of the Highway Trust Fund. In conjunction with this adjustment, section 110 of title 23, U.S.C. (Revenue Aligned Budget Authority, or RABA), authorizes contract authority in an amount equal to the additional obligation limitation. In fiscal year 2001, the RABA adjustment is $3.058 billion.
Section 5 of this bill allocates $741 million of the RABA adjustment to support Administration priorities for improving safety, mobility, and economic development. Specifically, $143 million of the $741 million would remain in the Federal-aid highway program for use as follows: the Mississippi Delta Initiative would receive $48 million, the Indian Reservation Roads Program would receive an additional $75 million, and the Highway Use Tax Evasion Projects would receive an additional $20 million.
An additional $598 million of RABA funds would go to the following four programs outside the Federal-aid highway program: (1) the Commercial Drivers License Improvements Program would receive $10 million to implement a pilot program for states to enhance their driver record information systems; (2) the Job Access and Reverse Commute Program would receive $50 million to expand job opportunities for low-income Americans by expanding transportation options for getting to work; (3) the operations and research programs of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would receive an additional $70 million; and (4) as discussed below in Section 6, the Expanded Intercity Rail Passenger Service Fund would receive $468 million.
The remaining $2.317 billion of RABA funds would be distributed by formula across Federal-aid highway and motor carrier programs as authorized in section 110 of title 23.
SECTION 6. EXPANDED INTERCITY RAIL PASSENGER SERVICE.
Section 6 of the bill amends section 24101(a) of title 49, U.S.C., to make $468,000,000 available from RABA for fiscal year 2001 for the Expanded Intercity Rail Passenger Service Fund, a new grant program to improve intercity rail passenger service nationwide. Under the proposed program, the Secretary could award fifty percent matching grants to Amtrak and/or to a partner state or state consortium to implement capital projects that enhance intercity rail service. Eligible projects must generate a positive financial contribution for Amtrak and public benefits in excess of public costs, making them sound investments both for the company and the taxpayer. Projects may be located on any current or potential future intercity rail corridor. This funding would go towards the acquisition of equipment, construction of infrastructure improvements including acquisition of right-of-way, and planning and design. Funds could only be used for capital as defined by Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. The federal government would maintain a lien on the improvements made with these funds. A positive financial contribution would be measured by Amtrak recovering from the project all variable and attributable fixed/overhead costs associated with the new service. This program would improve overall intercity passenger rail speeds and service, thereby reducing congestion on the nations highways and improving air quality. This program would be used to improve passenger rail service, including improvements necessary for high-speed rail service and other increases in average speeds through rail infrastructure improvements.
SECTION 7. CONFORMING AMENDMENTS.
Section 7 amends section 9503(c)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code (title 26, U.S.C.) by adding the Emergency Relief Reserve Act to the list of laws under which expenditures are authorized to be made from the Highway Trust Fund.