Hawaii’s U.S. senators, both Democrats, are welcoming the bipartisan passage Thursday of a $300 billion transportation bill that now awaits President Obama’s signature.
Mazie Hirono’s office says that, from this year through 2020, Hawaii will receive over $1.3 billion in federal transportation funds — $261 million for public transit and nearly $1.1 billion to improve infrastructure.
“While not perfect, this bill supports bus and public transit programs that many Hawaii commuters and visitors rely on every day,” said Hirono.
Brian Schatz, a member of the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, said he worked to include provisions to support transit-oriented development for Honolulu’s rail system and promote safe streets and communities.
A completed rail guideway near the Fort Weaver and Farrington Highway intersection.
Cory Lum/Civil Beat
“For years states and counties have been asking Congress to provide predictable infrastructure funding to support responsible planning for long-term investments in our roads, bridges, buses and bike paths,” he said.
The legislation also reauthorizes the Export-Import Bank, which saw its charter expire in June.
The only senator missing the Senate vote was Bernie Sanders, the independent from Vermont who is seeking the presidency.
The bill also easily passed the House, with Democrat Tulsi Gabbard voting “yea” and colleague Mark Takai absent due to illness.
Of note: The New York Times reports that buried in more than 1,300 pages of the transportation bill “are dozens of policy changes that could affect drivers, riders and anyone else who uses, builds or renovates the nation’s roads, bridges, rails and transit systems.”
Some Interstate highways now free to travelers could soon become toll roads. Amtrak’s long-distance train routes could face private-sector competition. And auto employees and contractors who come forward with information about safety violations at their companies soon may collect a percentage of the penalties imposed by the government.
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