On Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed the DRIVE Act- standing for- Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act. While Republican Senator Dan Coats supported the bipartisan bill, according to the senator’s office, Coats is disappointed that an amendment of his that did not pass that would have allowed Indiana to receive the same percentage of available highway funding as Hoosiers contribute when they pay gas taxes at the pump.
Still, the DRIVE Act would guarantee that the state gets back at least 95 percent of its contributions to the Highway Trust Fund, plus additional general fund money that will likely give Indiana a rate of return exceeding 100%, according to a release from Coats’ office.
Additionally the Act, which passed the Senate by a 65 to 34 vote, would allow Indiana to plan for and construct critical infrastructure projects. Coats added that the bill will “…greatly increase and prioritize spending for bridges, the interstate system and the national highway system…and it will accelerate project delivery by reducing red tape and duplication in the permitting process, while still protecting the environment.”
In other action, the Senate passed a three-month extension of the current highway funding that was passed previously by the House and set to expire the end of July. Coats said that the “three-month patch avoids disaster for our national transportation system.” The extension now awaits President Obama’s signature.
Because the House of Representatives adjourned for August recess Wednesday, The DRIVE Act will be taken up by the House in the fall.
According to Senator Coats Office, the DRIVE Act:
- Increases and prioritizes spending for bridges, the interstate system and the national highway system;
- Includes reforms intended to bring more transparency to the Highway Trust Fund and the Federal Aviation Administration;
- Provides state and local governments with more flexibility to efficiently stretch infrastructure dollars further; and,
- Accelerates project delivery by reducing red tape and duplication in the permitting process while still protecting our environment and communities.