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A bipartisan group of U.S. senators yesterday introduced a six-year surface transportation reauthorization bill that calls for appropriating $278 billion for highway and transit programs.The bill, titled the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act (DRIVE), was introduced yesterday by Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee; Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Senate EPW Committee; David Vitter (R-La.), chairman of the EPW Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure; and Tom Carper (D-Del.), senior member of the EPW Committee. The legislation is scheduled for markup at an EPW business committee meeting today."Our nation's roads and highways have suffered under too many short-term extensions, which have led to higher costs, more waste, and less capability to prioritize major modernization projects to address growing demands on our interstates," said Inhofe in a press release. "The DRIVE Act will provide states and local communities with the certainty they deserve to plan and construct infrastructure projects efficiently."The measure calls for authorizing $278 billion in contract authority over six years, starting in fiscal-year 2016. The final two months of FY2015 are not included in the bill. The bill's spending measure depends on Congress finding a way to fund it, however.Still, the bill drew praise from some transportation advocacy organizations, including the Coalition for America's Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC). That organization was particularly pleased with measure included in the bill that would create a funded freight investment program."Robust federal funding for freight infrastructure signals a commitment to reestablishing America's place in international trade competitiveness," said Sharon Neely, CAGTC chairman and chief deputy executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments.
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