Washington, D.C. — Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee unveiled the fiscal year (FY) 2021 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill that was authored by Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee. The legislation includes Senator Collins’ provisions to make critical improvements to Maine’s transportation infrastructure and promote economic development. Senator Collins drafted the bill with broad, bipartisan input, and it now heads to a Conference Committee before it will be voted on by the full Senate and House.
“Improving Maine infrastructure is essential to moving our economy forward,” said Senator Collins. “As the Chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, I have secured more than $747 million in competitive grants to enhance our transportation network. This legislation would build on those investments by funding projects that will enhance safety and create jobs in communities across the state.”
The FY 2021 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill provides $74.8 billion in new funding, $561 million more than last year. Transportation provisions secured by Senator Collins to benefit Maine include:
· BUILD Grants: The bill includes $1 billion for BUILD grants, which provide federal assistance for vital transportation projects across the country. Since the program’s inception in 2009, Senator Collins has secured more than $250 million for key transportation investments throughout Maine, including bridges, seaports, and rail projects. This year Senator Collins secured $45 million in BUILD grants to rehabilitate and replace seven bridges in Maine. Maine grant applications through this highly competitive program have been successful in every funding round due to Senator Collins’ advocacy.
· Highway and Bridge Funding Increase: The bill supports $46.4 billion for Federal-aid highways from the Highway Trust Fund, consistent with the recent extension of the FAST Act. In addition, $2.4 billion is provided from the general fund, providing Maine DOT an additional $41 million above the FAST Act funding levels. The bill also provides $35 million for the National Scenic Byways Program.
· Maritime: The bill provides $390 million for the new training vessels for the State Maritime Academies (SMAs) and $43 million for assistance to the SMAs, including Maine Maritime Academy. The bill provides $200 million for Port Infrastructure Development Grants. Maine Ports Authority received a $4.1 million grant in FY 2020. The bill also provides $20 million for the Small Shipyard Grant program, which helps small shipyards improve the efficiency of their operations by providing for equipment and other facility upgrades.
· Aviation: The bill provides $18 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), with increased funding for aviation safety. The bill includes $3.7 billion for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants, $10 million for the Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP), and $5 million for the Aviation Workforce Development Program. In addition, $142 million is provided for the Essential Air Service (EAS) Program. The EAS program provides commercial air service to Augusta, Bar Harbor/Trenton, Presque Isle/Houlton, and Rockland.
· Amtrak: The bill includes $2 billion for Amtrak, which supports Maine’s Downeaster service. The bill also provides $340 million for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure Safety Improvements (CRISI) grants, which have been helpful for the Downeaster, PanAm, and Springfield Terminal Railway Company, which recently received a $16.9 million CRISI grant to improve 75 miles of rail infrastructure in Penobscot, Somerset, Waldo, and Kennebec counties.
· Emergency Responder Grants. The bill includes an increase of $1 million for Emergency Response grants that are prioritized for rural areas and $1 million for the Assistance for Local Emergency Response Training (ALERT) grants that are supported by the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
Since 2009, when Senator Collins became a member of the Appropriations Committee, she has secured more than $747 million in competitive transportation grants for the State of Maine.