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Wicker Votes to Advance Bipartisan...

Wicker Votes to Advance Bipartisan Surface Transportation Bill

By: Magnolia Tribune - May 26, 2021

Miss. Senator Celebrates Win for America’s Infrastructure

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, today voted to advance the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021, which would set a baseline funding level over five years at a historic high of $303.5 billion for highways, roads, and bridges across the nation. If enacted, it would provide an estimated $3.3 billion to Mississippi during this period. The proposal now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.

“It is good to see Congress come together in a bipartisan way for our nation’s infrastructure,” Wicker said. “This bill would provide a historic investment for the many roads, highways, and bridges across America that need repair or replacement. It also includes a number of important provisions that would help Mississippi communities access federal resources for important transportation projects and increase safety in our state. As Congress looks for solutions to our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, this is a step in the right direction.”

Among other provisions, the legislation includes several Wicker priorities, including:

  • Bridge Investment Act – The legislation includes the major components of the Bridge Investment Act, which Wicker has cosponsored. The legislation would provide up to $6.53 billion for bridge improvement projects. The bill also included a Wicker request to direct additional investment to off-system bridges in rural counties.
  • Rural Investment – The legislation had many provisions to direct investment to rural America, including authorizing $2 billion for a discretionary grant program for rural areas and authorizing the Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (ROUTES) council to provide rural perspective at the Department of Transportation.
  • Flexibility for Multi-modal Freight Investment – The legislation includes some Wicker priorities to allow more opportunity for impactful multi-modal freight projects in the National Highway Freight Program and Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grants.
  • Enhance Local Control – The legislation includes Wicker’s Transportation Alternatives Enhancement Act, which would strengthen a program that supports projects designed to improve quality of life through walking and bicycling infrastructure by giving local governments more control and increasing funding back to its historic average.  Mississippi communities of all sizes can access this program.
  • Future Interstate Designations – Wicker supported designating several routes in Mississippi as High Priority Corridors, making the roadways eligible to become interstates should the roads meet interstate standards in the future. The designated High Priority Corridors include:

o   South Mississippi Corridor – A route along U.S. 84 from the Mississippi-Louisiana border near Natchez east to the intersection with I-59 near Laurel and following U.S. 49 from Hattiesburg south to the intersection with I-10 near Gulfport.

o   Kosciusko to Gulf Coast Corridor – A route starting at I-55 near Vaiden, running south and passing east of Jackson to connect to U.S. 49 north of Hattiesburg.

o   S.R. 7 from Grenada north to the intersection of I-22 at Holly Springs

o   I-22 spur from Tupelo running south along U.S. 45 to Shannon

The Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021 would replace the existing surface transportation law, the FAST Act, which is due to expire in September. This bill would provide more than a 34 percent increase in funding compared to the FAST Act.

This legislation was voted out of committee by a unanimous bipartisan vote of 20-0.

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Magnolia Tribune

This article was produced by Y'all Politics staff.