Garamendi Votes to Tackle the Climate Crisis and Secure $20 Million for Local Projects in Transportation Bill
WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), a senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, voted to pass the “Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act” (H.R.3684)—a comprehensive surface transportation bill that would modernize our nation’s roads, bridges, transit, rail, drinking water systems, and make our infrastructure more resilient to climate change. The legislation would also codify several key provisions in President Biden’s infrastructure plan and make the largest federal investment in U.S. transportation infrastructure in decades.
Garamendi secured $20 million for local transportation projects as well as several key reforms to U.S. transportation policy in the legislation. The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 221-201 and now heads to the U.S. Senate for consideration.
“Across America, we are witnessing the devastating impact that our nation’s outdated transportation infrastructure is having on local communities and our economy,” Garamendi said. “The horrors of climate change are exposing the vulnerabilities of America’s transportation system in plain sight. As a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I’ve spent my tenure in Congress fighting to rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure and augment our transportation sector for the 21st century using American materials and workers.
“By passing the ‘INVEST in America Act,’ Congress will take a major step forward towards providing the modern, climate-resilient infrastructure that will lay the foundation for the electrification of our surface transportation system. This will help move America away from a hydrocarbon-dependent transportation system. I am pleased that federal funding for local transportation projects I advocated for has been included in this legislation, and I am thrilled that several amendments and policy provisions I introduced were also included. I will work tirelessly to ensure this legislation passes Congress and is signed into law,” Garamendi concluded.
- The “INVEST in America Act” includes funding for Member Designated Projects, which gives elected officials the chance to advocate directly for federal funding for surface transportation projects in their districts. Garamendi secured the maximum amount of funding for his district that is allowed through Member Designated Projects. Additionally, the legislation allots the State of California $26,957,166,116 between fiscal year 2022-2026 for road repairs, traffic safety, and public transit operations.
Garamendi secured the funding levels for the following projects in California’s 3rd Congressional District as part of the legislation:
- SR128/I-505 Overcrossing Project in Winters: $8,540,000
- This federal funding would allow the City of Winters and Caltrans to modify the SR128/I-505 interchange ramps in Winters to provide safer crossings for pedestrians and bicyclists. This funding will also help construct a bike and pedestrian connection from the overcrossing to the El Rio Villa community.
- WHY IT MATTERS: This project will provide safer crossings to pedestrians and bicyclists, and address social inequities connecting a disadvantaged community that was cut off from Winters when I-505 was constructed. For years, members of this community have had to walk to school or to the store along an unsafe, treacherous route. The funding will also help create a safer roadway for all modes of transportation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- I-505/ Vaca Valley Parkway Corridor Multi-Modal Improvements Project in Vacaville: $4,000,000
- This federal funding would help the Solano Transportation Authority make improvements along the Vaca Valley Parkway corridor from west of the East Monte Vista Avenue/Crocker Drive intersection to east of the northbound on/off ramps with I-505.
- WHY IT MATTERS: This project will benefit the community by replacing two signals and a stop-controlled intersection with the construction of three, coordinated roundabouts. It will also help build new pedestrian and bicycle access points, provide a continuous route for non-motorized travelers, and connect the improvements at the western East Monte Vista/Crocker Drive intersection and eastern I-505 northbound ramp intersection with Vaca Valley Parkway. These upgrades will improve traffic flow and increase accessibility for vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
- Jepson Parkway Vanden Road Complete Streets Project in Fairfield: $7,460,000
- This federal funding would help the Solano Transportation Authority improve traffic flow along a section of roadway that currently handles nearly 7,500 daily travelers and provides access to Travis Air Force Base’s secondary gate located on North Gate Road.
- WHY IT MATTERS: This project will benefit the community by widening approximately 1,100 lane feet of Vanden Road and installing new bike lanes, sidewalks, drainage improvements, streetlights, traffic striping, and landscaped medians. Vanden Road is a primary access point for Travis Air Force Base and the David Grant USAF Medical Center. As such, both the reserve units and 34,000 active base personnel would be the primary users of the project’s bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
Garamendi also successfully advocated for the following provisions to the legislation in the base text and during the markup:
- Strengthening “Buy America” Requirements and Closing Loopholes: Garamendi successfully added amendments to the “INVEST in America Act” that strengthen “Buy America” requirements for federally funded transportation projects. Garamendi has been a strong advocate for “Buy America” policies throughout his tenure in Congress:
- Supporting “Buy America” Requirements for Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) Rail Projects: Garamendi included a provision in the “INVEST in America Act” from his “Made in America Act” (H.R.2468) to codify the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) existing requirement that any projects receiving TIFIA credit assistance also comply with “Buy America” requirements.
- Codifying “Buy America” Requirements for Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) Projects: Garamendi successfully advocated to maintain a section in the “INVEST in America Act” that was included in the legislation during the 116th Congress that would require any projects receiving Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) credit assistance to comply with the same “Buy America” content requirements that apply to passenger rail grants and Amtrak.
- Closing the “Buy America” Loophole Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Projects: Garamendi successfully advocated to maintain a provision in the “INVEST in America Act” from the 116th Congress that would close a potential “Buy America” loophole for FRA-funded projects.
- Extending National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Agreements to Reflect Realistic Timelines: Garamendi added an amendment to the “INVEST in America Act” that lengthens the agreement terms allowed to states selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation to complete assessments and work required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This amendment does not make any changes, whatsoever, to environmental planning requirements under NEPA or federal permitting requirements. The extension of agreement terms in this amendment, from 5 to 10 years, was requested by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), which has a proven track record of completing this work.
- Allowing a 6-Year Deadline for Emergency Relief Projects: Garamendi added his “Transportation Emergency Relief Funds Availability Act” (H.R. 3193) to the “INVEST in America Act,” which would safeguard federal funding for disaster recovery transportation projects statewide. Current U.S. Department of Transportation regulations allow the federal government to claw back emergency relief funding for highway and public transportation projects if those projects do not reach construction within two fiscal years of being awarded federal funds. This legislation would repeal the 2-year regulatory deadline and create a new 6-year deadline that would begin following the date on which a disaster was declared by the President or a Governor.
- Supporting Anti-Corrosion Efforts and Corrosion Resistance: Garamendi successfully advocated to keep a provision in the “INVEST in America Act” that was included in the 116th Congress to invest in corrosion resistance for our nation’s bridges and similar infrastructure. This will protect critical infrastructure from deteriorating and helps create a significant positive return on America’s investment into infrastructure resiliency.
- Prioritizing Funding for Evacuation Routes: Garamendi successfully advocated for federal guidance on design, construction, repair, and maintenance of evacuation routes. Garamendi’s district has experienced increased wildfire activity and other emergency activity in recent years, and this guidance will help support the construction and maintenance of critically important evacuation routes. This provision is similar to Garamendi’s “ESCAPE Act” (H.R.1142), which would improve evacuation routes.
- Increased Federal Funding for Public Ferry Service: Garamendi successfully advocated for increased funding for the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Ferry Boat Formula Program from $80 million to $120 million annually, and the FTA’s Passenger Ferry Grant Program from $20 million to $64 million annually. The additional federal funds will help expand public ferry service and help ferry services withstand the impacts of climate change. This provision was supported by the National Public Ferry Coalition, which includes San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority.
- Increasing Federal Lands Transportation and Access Programs: Garamendi successfully advocated for $555 million in federal funding to address the deferred maintenance backlog of federal lands. California has the largest state share (nearly $2 billion) of the federal lands deferred maintenance backlog. California is home to many of America’s most visited federal parklands, which have seen record-setting attendance in recent years. This funding will help ensure our federal lands have the transportation infrastructure they need to allow every American to enjoy their federal parks.
- Funding for University Transportation Centers (UTC): Garamendi successfully advocated for $96 million in federal funding to support the University Transportation Centers (UTC), including the institute at UC Davis. This funding helps UTCs leverage funding from private, state, and local sources to conduct research, train the workforce of tomorrow, and produce studies that make transportation safer, more efficient, and more secure.
- Prohibiting Taxpayer Funds to State-owned Enterprises: Garamendi successfully advocated for a provision in the “INVEST in America Act” that would restrict the use of federal funds to buy rolling stock from foreign state-owned enterprises and foreign state-subsidized manufacturers.
- This provision, which Garamendi helped secure, prohibits America’s tax dollars from being used to support Chinese state-owned firms seeking to undermine market competition.
- This provision mirrors the Transportation Infrastructure Vehicle Security Act, which was enacted into law during the 116th Congress as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Congressman Garamendi was an original cosponsor of the bill.
The full text of the “Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act” (H.R.3684) is available here.
2021 is the first time Congress has considered Congressionally directed funding of local projects in any surface transportation bill since 2006.