Sen. Tom Carper, along with officials from the Delaware Department of Transportation, toured on Aug. 26 several roads and bridges impacted by flooding and sea-level rise to highlight America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, a bipartisan, $287 billion surface transportation infrastructure reauthorization bill co-authored by Carper that includes the first-ever title specifically addressing climate change.
ATIA invests $10 billion to both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance the resiliency of roadways to extreme weather. The EPW Committee voted unanimously July 30 to advance ATIA.
Some of the flood-prone sites toured today may be eligible for federal funds under the $5 billion PROTECT grants program created by ATIA, consisting of formula awards and competitive grants, which helps states reinforce and upgrade roads and bridges to withstand extreme weather.
“As the lowest lying state in the union, climate change poses profound threats to Delaware’s coastal way of life,” said Carper. “And as many First State residents know all too well, our roads and bridges are often on the front lines of this crisis — restricting the flow of goods and services and putting motorists at risk. The sites I visited today in all three counties are just a few examples of Delaware roadways that are too often inundated with water thanks to extreme weather events made worse by climate change. That’s why I fought hard to make sure this legislation included the first-ever climate title in a bill of its kind, looking towards the future by fortifying Delaware infrastructure for decades to come and reducing the emissions that fuel global warming. This bill creates innovative programs that boost electric vehicle and alternative fueling infrastructure, helps states cut emissions, and offers grants for localities to bolster roadways, like the ones we saw today, to the impacts of extreme weather.”
“Beyond climate change, the bill does so much more to make the road and bridge upgrades needed to increase safety and help America compete in the 21st Century economy,” said Carper. “I’m excited to get back to Washington next month to keep pushing this bill towards the finish line.”
Sites toured included the Route 9 Army Creek Bridge, south of Dobbinsville, near the mouth of the Delaware River; a road near Port Mahon on Delaware Bay, Dover; the bridge on New Road, Lewes; and a road on the banks of the Indian River Bay in Oak Orchard, Sussex County.
ATIA will make a $287 billion investment — a 27% increase in overall federal funding levels, the most significant in history. This funding will improve roads and bridges in the First State, and keep Delawareans moving forward in the 21st century economy. Overall, Carper helped secure more than $1 billion in funding for surface infrastructure improvements in Delaware, including $15.53 million to protect roads, highways and bridges from natural disasters and extreme weather events; $27.64 million to build more bike lanes and sidewalks; $11.85 million for projects lowering carbon emissions; and $67.14 million to improve safety and reduce fatalities.
The text of ATIA can be found at bit.ly/2MiFnPs, and a summary of the bill can be accessed at bit.ly/2MlPuTD. Read the section-by-section of the legislation at bit.ly/2ZiyVQ0.
To combat climate change, ATIA invests nearly $5 billion over 5 years to improve the resiliency of roads and bridges from natural disasters and extreme weather events, which will continue to worsen with climate change. $3.93 billion will be distributed to states by formula and $1 billion is available in competitive grants. The PROTECT Grants Program supports projects that reinforce, upgrade or realign existing transportation infrastructure to better withstand extreme weather. The program also includes funds dedicated specifically to coastal state resiliency and to fund emergency evacuation routes.
ATIA harnesses the power of Mother Nature through the use of natural infrastructure such as marshes and wetlands that protect roads from storm surges during tropical cyclones, hurricanes and Nor’easters. ATIA also establishes new eligibilities for natural infrastructure in the National Highway Performance Program and to the Emergency Relief program. Finally, ATIA adds resiliency for freight to the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects Program, commonly known as INFRA.
ATIA includes $3 billion to be distributed to states and cities for projects dedicated to lowering carbon emissions. This new program creates incentives to reduce emissions by providing greater project flexibility to states and cities that develop carbon emission reduction plans. ATIA provides an additional $500 million in performance awards to states and cities that successfully reduce emissions.
To support the growing market for electric and alternative fuel vehicles, ATIA provides $1 billion in competitive grants for states and localities to build electric vehicle charging infrastructure, as well as hydrogen and natural gas fueling infrastructure along designated highway corridors.
Ports are a significant source of carbon emissions and are often located near vulnerable communities that are disproportionately burdened by the environmental and health impacts of pollution. ATIA dedicates $370 million to reduce emissions at ports by advancing projects such as port electrification.
ATIA also creates a new competitive grant program to provide $200 million to reduce highway travel and congestion in metropolitan areas by encouraging the use of transit and carpooling. ATIA also significantly increases funding for the Transportation Alternatives Program to help install bike lanes and sidewalks, and reduces reliance on car travel.