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ASCE Texas Section Legislative Update >> October 2020

ASCE Texas Section Legislative Update >> October 2020

October 2020

CECON Legislative Panel Set

One of the most exciting contributors to this year’s CECON lineup is the Legislative Panel. Despite the challenges we face due to the pandemic, this conference will be held virtually and we expect this panel to be more eventful than ever before. The Panel is scheduled for Thursday, November 5 at 4:00 PM CT. We have a full slate of both State Representatives and State Senators from across Texas to answer questions related to infrastructure and general topics concerning the Civil Engineering community. Learn more and register to attend CECON 2020 Virtual here. Feel free to submit suggested questions for the legislators to [email protected].

Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act

Surface transportation is vital to the nation’s economy and is quickly approaching a deadline that will negatively impact the available funding for future projects and improvements. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act which reauthorizes federal surface transportation programs expires on September 30, 2020.  To continue maintaining and building our nation’s surface transportation system and to not fall further behind, we urged Congress to pass legislation before September 30 that includes:

  • A one-year extension of the current surface transportation law with increased investment levels.
  • Federal funding for state departments of transportation and public transit agencies – $37 billion and $32 billion, respectively.
  • Provisions to ensure Highway Trust Fund (HTF) solvency for the duration of the extension. 

This does not include the COVID-19 funding impacts that have yet to fully show as States, Counties, and Municipalities are finalizing their upcoming budgets. We encouraged all ASCE’s Key Contacts to take the time to reach out to their members of Congress to urge the reauthorization of the FAST Act. If you are not already a Key Contact, please consider registering and becoming part of this group that actively influences the policy process at the state and federal levels. Here is a link to get involved.

2020 Census

Many of you have probably seen all the 2020 Census advertisements the past couple of months and have taken the time to complete the survey. This data is crucial for Texas and your local municipalities  to secure future funding over the next 10 years. This is no different for federal infrastructure allocations. Every year billions of dollars in federal funds for public transit and highway improvements are distributed based on the Census data. October is the last month to complete this year’s Census. If you have not taken the time to complete the Census, please take the short time to complete the survey. Here is a link to the national website.

BUILD Grant Awards

The US Department of Transportation awarded $1 Billion in Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grants across the United States. The BUILD program has both urban and rural projects with selection criteria ranging from safety, economic competitiveness, quality of life, state of good repair, environmental sustainability, innovation, and the range of partnerships. Texas received two grants, one rural and one urban, for a total of $50 Million. One of the projects is located along I-20 in Midland County with TxDOT as the project sponsor and the other is in North Texas with North Central Texas Council of Governments as the project sponsor. ASCE applauds these investments in critical infrastructure across our nation, and we continue to advocate for increased funding for this grant program.