Shaheen & Booker Reintroduce Legislation to Help NH & NJ Fund Transport Infrastructure Projects



May 25, 2021

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) have reintroduced the Toll Credit Market Law, legislation that would establish a program to help states increase their resources for road and transit projects. The bill directs the Secretary of Transportation to establish a market for the sale and purchase of toll credits, which are accrued when states use toll revenues to invest in transportation projects that benefit the inter- States. Although toll credits lack monetary value, states can use these credits to cover local counterpart on federally funded highway and transit projects. However, given the limited amount of federal dollars that states can spend their toll credits on, many states end up with more credits than they can use. According to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, New Hampshire currently has a balance of over $ 200 million in toll credits. This bill would allow states like New Hampshire and New Jersey to sell their excess toll credits to other states in this market to generate new revenue. These funds could be used for other transportation needs in those states. Shaheen introduced this bill for the first time 115th Congress.

“Toll credits represent dollars left on the table that could and should be put to good use for a myriad of infrastructure needs across New Hampshire. the Toll Credit Market Law is a common sense bill that would give New Hampshire and other states facing similar constraints the opportunity to get real value for these credits that they can straighten out and invest significantly to fix our roads, bridges and other public transport infrastructure that otherwise could not be helped with toll credits, ” says Senator Shaheen. “We need to tackle our crumbling infrastructure. Senator Booker and I are proposing a smart and economical way to do just that, and I urge members on both sides of the aisle to join us in this effort.

“New Jersey is in desperate need of a substantial increase in dedicated federal investments to rebuild our aging transportation infrastructure,” said Senator Booker. “Allowing states like New Jersey to sell their available toll credits in order to increase revenue to invest in our roads, bridges and rail systems is an innovative way to bring more resources together while stimulating investment in transport across the country. “

New Hampshire Department of Transportation commissioner Victoria Sheehan said, “New Hampshire is proud of the investments we have made in the Turnpike system. This investment has grown our toll credit balance and we would be happy to be able to turn the toll credits into cash, to improve safety and the state of the roads statewide. “

Background:

A state receives credits from the federal government when it uses toll revenues to fund projects that benefit the interstate system or interstate commerce. States can then use these toll credits as part of their required share of matching funds for federally funded highway and transit projects. Credits are not cash and cannot be used for any purpose other than government matching funds. Although they have no cash value, toll credits offer states significant savings as they free up state money that should be used to meet the federal matching requirement.

A number of states have successfully used toll credits to cover local twinning on federal highway and transit projects. However, due to the limited amount of federal dollars that states can spend their toll credits on, many states end up with more credits than they can use. In this case, excess toll credits are left on the table, even if expensive and necessary projects are put on the waiting list. Meanwhile, many states that do not use tolls do not take advantage of this valuable investment tool, unless they put in place expensive new toll systems.

In addition to creating a market for states to buy and sell toll credits, the Toll credit market would also be:

  • Allow states to purchase toll credits on behalf of metropolitan planning organizations and local governments;
  • Require participating States to report on transactions and intended uses of the product and toll credits; and
  • Direct the Secretary of Transportation to report to Congress on market progress one year after the program is in place and to follow up on the completion of the pilot program with a report outlining the viability of maintaining the market.

Senator Shaheen has long fought to bring federal dollars back to New Hampshire to invest in essential transportation and infrastructure projects to repair Granite State’s roads, railways, bridges and ports. Shaheen recently reintroduced a law, the Strengthening and Consolidation of Existing Bridges Act (SAFE) to begin addressing structurally deficient bridges across the country. In its 2021 Infrastructure Report, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave our nation’s bridge system a barely passing rating of C. According to the ASCE, 42% of all bridges have at least 50 years and 46,154, or 7.5% of our country’s bridges are considered structurally deficient. Senator Shaheen recently met with President Biden and a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers in Congress to discuss good faith efforts to meet our nation’s infrastructure needs. Shaheen introduced a bill that would create a national infrastructure initiative to fund innovative projects that promote energy efficiency while meeting important transportation needs. A senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Shaheen has historically secured federal funding for the Better Use of Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant program – formerly known as the TIGER grant program. During the government funding legislation of fiscal year 2021, Shaheen helped secure funding for the BUILD grant program, totaling $ 1 billion.



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