Congressman Sean Maloney

Representing the 18th District of New York
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Five-Year Highway Transportation Bill Passes House with Key Maloney Provisions Set to Become Law

Dec 3, 2015
Press Release
Maloney’s Work on Public-Private Partnerships, Highway-Rail Grade Crossing, Positive Train Control, Safe Bridges Provisions All Included in FAST Act

Washington, DC — With today’s passage of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act in the House, several critical measures authored by Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) are on their way to becoming law. Maloney’s Public-Private Partnership Infrastructure Investment Act, Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Act of 2015, Passenger Train Derailment Prevention Act of 2015, and Safe Bridges Investment Act were all included in the base text of the bill. Maloney, seen as one of the top Public Private Partnership (P3) experts in Congress, has been fighting for these priorities for the past year which will improve the Hudson Valley’s infrastructure, grow the economy, and enhance the safety of commuters and travelers in New York.

 

This bill reauthorizes highway, bridge, transportation safety, and public transit projects for the next five years. The measure provides $305 billion in funding for these programs over these five years. It also reauthorizes the critically important Export-Import Bank for four years, which helps American workers and businesses compete in the global economy.

 

“Since day one, I’ve worked across the aisle with local, state, and federal officials to make these critical investments in infrastructure that strengthen our communities, grow our economy, and create jobs. The provisions I authored in this legislation continue that commitment to delivering results for the Hudson Valley,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. “I’m happy that these provisions have been passed because each of them will make life better for my neighbors in the Hudson Valley.”

 

“When I was working in the Governor’s office and in the private sector, I spearheaded initiatives to develop Public-Private Partnerships, because these creative partnerships are a win-win; they allow us to make strategic investments in transportation and infrastructure while lowering costs for tax payers,” said Rep. Maloney. “This bill will unlock badly-needed resources to improve the roads, bridges and rail lines which New Yorkers rely on.”  

 

“As we saw earlier this year in the tragic Valhalla Metro-North accident, there are currently hundreds of high-hazard, dangerous rail crossings in New York that need significant improvements,” said Rep. Maloney. “My legislation included in this bill will invest in local communities, giving them the resources they need to upgrade and enhance the safety of rail crossings.”

 

“Our national rail safety standards badly need an update,” said Rep. Maloney. “Crashes and deaths should not be on people’s minds when they get on a train or live by the tracks, yet that is what my neighbors have to live with. My measure will enforce stricter standards on both passenger and freight rail speeds in an effort to reduce tragic accidents that result in loss of life and property.”

 

“My provisions to invest in bridges will unlock billions in targeted federal investments to make critical repairs and improvements to the local bridges families in the Hudson Valley use every single day to get to school and work,” said Rep. Maloney. “These bridges have been forgotten for too long, we must do more to ensure their safety.”

 

Public-Private Partnership Infrastructure Investment Act

Maloney’s breakthrough Public-Private Partnership Infrastructure Investment Act would allow for faster and more efficient investment in crucial transportation and infrastructure projects around the country. In the past, public-private partnerships, known as P3s, have provided innovative funding solutions for infrastructure projects by linking public investments with private sector resources and efficiencies. 

 

In addition to serving on the exclusive Public-Private Partnership Panel for the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Maloney has a long history fostering government and private sector cooperation.

 

Rep. Maloney’s bill would modernize and improve the coordination between the government and private sector by creating an office within the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) to assist modal agencies, states, and other grant recipients on implementing design-bid-build, design-build, and P3 procurement best practices, developing P3 model contracts, and accessing federal loan and loan guarantee programs. By serving as a one-stop shop, this important resource will guarantee states like New York are able to better utilize P3s to improve and invest in their critical infrastructure.

 

Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Act of 2015

The Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Act of 2015 will help states and communities make safety upgrades at dangerous highway-rail grade crossings. Ninety-five percent of deaths involving trains happen at highway-rail crossings. While deaths and accidents have declined steadily nationwide, accidents continue to happen in New York which has 5,304 grade crossings. From 2012-2014, there were 81 accidents, 15 deaths and 23 injuries at grade crossings, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.

 

This bill provides states and communities with more resources to prevent collisions at grade crossings and invest in protective safety devices to prevent future tragedies. By building bridges and tunnels to separate roadways from rail track, by installing improved lights and signals at crossings, and by increasing public awareness of grade crossing dangers, states and communities can take significant steps toward making highway-rail grade crossings safer.

 

Passenger Train Derailment Prevention Act

This provision pertains to “high-hazard” curves on rail lines, like the curve in the deadly Spuyten Duyvil derailment in 2013 and the Amtrak accident in Philadelphia this May. It would require passenger railroads and freight lines on which passenger rail travels to identify curves with a speed reduction of 20mph or greater and take actions to enhance safety through modification of existing ATC or other signal systems, increasing crew size, installing signage at those locations, installation of alerters in cabs, and increasing crew communication. This also gives railroads an incentive to implement positive train control (PTC). It would require that passenger as well as freight rail lines that passenger trains operate on to abide by these standards.

 

Safe Bridges Investment Act

Maloney’s Safe Bridges Investment Act would provide counties and municipalities with the funds they desperately need to fix so-called “off-system” bridges. More than a third of New York’s bridges are labeled as either “functionally obsolete,” meaning they cannot handle current traffic demand, or “structurally deficient,” meaning they require significant maintenance to remain in service and will eventually require total rehabilitation.

 

Off-system bridges, bridges owned by counties or municipalities, were initially excluded from the federal National Highway System and thus from receiving federal funding. In 2012, a federal transportation bill called MAP-21 became law, eliminating the Highway Bridge Program, which shifted the program’s funding to the National Highway Performance Program (NHPP). However, funding for the National Highway Performance Program only supports projects on the National Highway System (NHS), which excludes 77% of the country’s bridges. 

 

Restricting these dollars for use on a very limited number of bridges is detrimental to the vast majority of our nation’s bridges.  Limiting this funding to the projects eligible under the National Highway Performance Program creates a disparity that endangers the safety of citizens in urban and rural communities across the county.  The bill would restore funding eligibility to these bridges regardless of their designation.

 

Maloney also co-sponsored an amendment with Rep. Chris Gibson (NY-19) that would direct the Department of Transportation to create a comprehensive strategy within the next year to address “structurally deficient” and “functionally obsolete” bridges.

 

According to the New York State Department of Transportation, more than one-third of New York State’s 17,000 bridges are in need of repair, with 2,016 graded as structurally deficient and 4,735 graded as functionally obsolete.

 

In the Hudson Valley, there are a total of 1,904 bridges and of these, 206 are structurally deficient bridges and 749 are functionally obsolete bridges.

 

COUNTY

NUMBER OF BRIDGES

STRUCTURALLY DEFICIENT BRIDGES

FUNCTIONALLY OBSOLETE BRIDGES

Dutchess

333

47

108

Orange

455

66

115

Putnam

104

13

36

Rockland

243

22

105

Westchester

769

58

385

 

The text of Rep. Maloney’s provisions can be found here.

 

The conference report does include a number of key provisions, including:

  • Boosting commerce and strengthening our economic competitiveness by providing dedicated funding specifically for freight projects, including freight rail, for the first time.
  • Injecting $3.7 billion over five years into bus funding – a 75 percent increase over current levels.  This will reduce traffic congestion, by providing more public transportation options.
  • Authorizing $10.2 billion for intercity passenger rail investment, including Amtrak, while providing $199 million in guaranteed funding to help commuter railroads implement Positive Train Control systems.
  • Increasing American manufacturing jobs by strengthening Buy America requirements.