Keep America Moving: Infrastructure Bill on Way to President’s Desk

Better late than never. Late on Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a $1.2 trillion bill to rebuild the country’s aging infrastructure, including roads and bridges.

After a 228-206 vote, the bill, with $550 billion specified for highways, roads, bridges, electric vehicles and road safety programs, awaits President Joe Biden’s approval.

After some stalling, the U.S. Senate approved the bill in August.

The bill’s text includes a section on Crash Avoidance Technology: “to establish minimum performance standards.” The legislation also states that all passenger motor vehicles manufactured in the U.S. on or after the compliance date (to be determined later) must be equipped with forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking system that alerts drivers if the distance to another vehicle or an object in the travel path is too close. The vehicle would apply the brakes if a collision is imminent and the driver fails to step on the brake. A lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist system to warn the driver to maintain lane of travel and correct the course of travel are also necessary.

Another section of the bill states that within three years of the bill becoming law, and, after consultation with “frequent users of publicly available databases,” revision will be completed on the public accessibility of the NHTSA’s vehicle safety databases. Within 180 days of the bill becoming law, the NHTSA’s administrator and the heads of the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office and the Federal Highway Administration will expand vehicle-to-pedestrian research efforts with a focus on bicyclists and “other vulnerable road users into a safe deployment of connected vehicle systems.” Research efforts must be provided in a report within two years.

Of the transportation funds, $110 billion is marked for upgrading the nation’s highways, roads and bridges and $7.5 billion for electric-vehicle charging infrastructure. Funding of new safety programs for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will be $10.5 billion. The Safe Streets for All program will receive $5 billion to fund local and state improvements to reduce auto crashes and fatalities, including $1.1 million to improve driver behavior and safety, and $200 million for competitive grant programming to support commercial vehicle safety plan activities.

According to CNN, H.R. 3684- Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would be paid for by adding approximately $350 billion to the national deficit, repurposing unused COVID-19 relief funds, and $53 billion partly from states choosing to end pandemic unemployment benefits early.

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