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Section 1909 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act—A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU)
SEC. 1909. FUTURE OF SURFACE TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM.
(a) Declaration of Policy.--Section 101(b) of title 23, United States Code, is amended--
``(b) Declaration of Policy.--
``(1) Acceleration of construction of federal-aid highway systems.--Congress declares that it is in the national interest to accelerate the construction of Federal-aid highway systems, including the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense, because many of the highways (or portions of the highways) are inadequate to meet the needs of local and interstate commerce for the national and civil defense.'';
(2) in the second undesignated paragraph by striking ``It is hereby declared'' and all that follows through ``objectives of this
Act'' and inserting the following: ``
(2) Completion of interstate system.--Congress declares that the prompt and early completion of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways (referred to in this section as the `Interstate System'), so named because of its primary importance to the national defense, is essential to the national interest''; and
(3) by striking the third undesignated paragraph and inserting the following:
``(3) Transportation needs of 21st century.--Congress declares that--
``(A) it is in the national interest to preserve and enhance the surface transportation system to meet the needs of the United States for the 21st Century;
``(B) the current urban and long distance personal travel and freight movement demands have surpassed the original forecasts and travel demand patterns are expected to continue to change;
``(C) continued planning for and investment in surface transportation is critical to ensure the surface transportation system adequately meets the changing travel demands of the future;
``(D) among the foremost needs that the surface transportation system must meet to provide for a strong and vigorous national economy are safe, efficient, and reliable--
``(i) national and interregional personal mobility (including personal mobility in rural and urban areas) and reduced congestion;
``(ii) flow of interstate and international commerce and freight transportation; and
``(iii) travel movements essential for national security;
``(E) special emphasis should be devoted to providing safe and efficient access for the type and size of commercial and military vehicles that access designated National Highway System intermodal freight terminals;
``(F) the connection between land use and infrastructure is significant;
``(G) transportation should play a significant role in promoting economic growth, improving the environment, and sustaining the quality of life; and
``(H) the Secretary should take appropriate actions to preserve and enhance the Interstate System to meet the needs of the 21st Century.''.
(b) National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission.--
(1) Establishment.--There is established a commission to be known as the ``National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission'' (in this subsection referred to as the ``Commission'').
(A) Composition.--The Commission shall be composed of 12 members, of whom-
(i) 1 member shall be the Secretary, who shall serve as Chairperson;
(ii) 3 members shall be appointed by the President;
(iii) 2 members shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives;
(iv) 2 members shall be appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives;
(v) 2 members shall be appointed by the majority leader of the Senate; and
(vi) 2 members shall be appointed by the minority leader of the Senate.
(B) Qualifications.--Members appointed under subparagraph (A)--
(i) shall include--
(I) individuals representing State and local governments, metropolitan planning organizations, transportation-related industries, and public interest organizations involved with scientific, regulatory, economic, and environmental activities relating to transportation;
(II) individuals with a background in public finance, including experience in developing State and local revenue resources;
(III) individuals involved in surface transportation program administration;
(IV) individuals that have conducted academic research into related issues; and
(V) individuals that provide unique perspectives on current and future requirements for revenue sources to support the Highway Trust Fund and policies impacting those revenues; and
(ii) shall be balanced geographically to the extent consistent with maintaining the highest level of expertise on the Commission.
(C) Date of appointments.--The appointment of a member of the Commission shall be made not later than 120 days after the date of establishment of the Commission.
(D) Terms.--A member shall be appointed for the life of the Commission.
(E) Vacancies.--A vacancy on the Commission--
(i) shall not affect the powers of the Commission; and
(ii) shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment was made.
(F) Initial meeting.--Not later than 30 days after the date on which all members of the Commission have been appointed, the Commission shall hold the initial meeting of the Commission.
(G) Meetings.--The Commission shall meet at the call of the Chairperson.
(H) Quorum.--A majority of the members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum, but a lesser number of members may hold hearings.
(I) Vice chairperson.--The Commission shall select a Vice Chairperson from among the appointed members of the Commission.
(A) In general.--The Commission shall--
(i) conduct a comprehensive study of--
(I) the current condition and future needs of the surface transportation system;
(II) short-term sources of Highway Trust Fund revenues;
(III) long-term alternatives to replace or supplement the fuel tax as the principal revenue source to support the Highway Trust Fund, including new or alternate sources of revenue;
(IV) revenue sources to fund the needs of the surface transportation system over at least the 30-year period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act, including new or alternate sources of revenue;
(V) revenues flowing into the Highway Trust Fund under laws in existence on the date of enactment of this Act, including individual components of the overall flow of the revenues; and
(VI) whether the amount of revenues described in subclause
(V) is likely to increase, decrease, or remain constant absent any change in law, taking into consideration the impact of possible changes in public vehicular choice, fuel use, and travel alternatives that could be expected to reduce or increase revenues into the Highway Trust Fund;
(B) develop a conceptual plan, with alternative approaches, to ensure that the surface transportation system will continue to serve the needs of the United States, including specific recommendations regarding design and operational standards, Federal policies, and legislative changes;
(C) consult with the Secretary of the Treasury in conducting the study to ensure that the views of the Secretary concerning essential attributes of Highway Trust Fund revenue alternatives are considered;
(D) consult with representatives of State departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations and other key interested stakeholders in conducting the study to
• the views of the stakeholders on alternative revenue sources to support State transportation improvement programs are considered; and
• any recommended Federal financing strategy takes into account State financial requirements; and
(E) based on the study, make specific recommendations regarding--
(i) actions that should be taken to develop alternative revenue sources to support the Highway Trust Fund; and
(ii) the time frame for taking those actions.
(4) Related work.--To the maximum extent practicable, the study shall build on related work that has been completed by--
(A) the Secretary;
(B) the Secretary of Energy;
(C) the Transportation Research Board, including the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of the recent study conducted by the Transportation Research Board on alternatives to the fuel tax to support highway program financing; and
(D) other entities and persons.
(5) Surface transportation needs.--With respect to surface transportation needs, the investigation and study shall specifically address--
(A) the current condition and performance of the Interstate System (including the physical condition of bridges and pavements and operational characteristics and performance), relying primarily on existing data sources;
(B) the future of the Interstate System, based on a range of legislative and policy approaches for 15-, 30-, and 50-year time periods;
(C) the expected demographics and business uses that impact the surface transportation system;
(D) the expected use of the surface transportation system, including the effects of changing vehicle types, modes of transportation, fleet size and weights, and traffic volumes;
(E) desirable design policies and standards for future improvements of the surface transportation system, including additional access points;
(F) the identification of urban, rural, national, and interregional needs for the surface transportation system;
(G) the potential for expansion, upgrades, or other changes to the surface transportation system, including--
(i) deployment of advanced materials and intelligent technologies;
(ii) critical multistate, urban, and rural corridors needing capacity, safety, and operational enhancements;
(iii) improvements to intermodal linkages;
(iv) security and military deployment enhancements;
(v) strategies to enhance asset preservation; and
(vi) implementation strategies;
(H) the improvement of emergency preparedness and evacuation using the surface transportation system, including--
(i) examination of the potential use of all modes of the surface transportation system in the safe and efficient evacuation of citizens during times of emergency;
(ii) identification of the location of critical bottlenecks; and
(iii) development of strategies to improve system redundancy, especially in areas with a high potential for terrorist attacks;
(I) alternatives for addressing environmental concerns associated with the future development of the surface transportation system;
(J) the assessment of the current and future capabilities for conducting system-wide real-time performance data collection and analysis, traffic monitoring, and transportation systems operations and management; and
(K) policy and legislative alternatives for addressing future needs for the surface transportation system.
(6) Financing.--With respect to financing, the study shall address specifically--
(A) the advantages and disadvantages of alternative revenue sources to meet anticipated Federal surface transportation financial requirements;
(B) recommendations concerning the most promising revenue sources to support long-term Federal surface transportation financing requirements;
(C) development of a broad transition strategy to move from the current tax base to new funding mechanisms, including the time frame for various components of the transition strategy;
(D) recommendations for additional research that may be needed to implement recommended alternatives; and
(E) the extent to which revenues should reflect the relative use of the highway system.
(7) Financing recommendations.--
(A) Factors for consideration.--In developing financing recommendations under this subsection, the Commission shall consider--
(i) the ability to generate sufficient revenues from all modes to meet anticipated long-term surface transportation financing needs;
(ii) the roles of the various levels of government and the private sector in meeting future surface transportation financing needs;
(iii) administrative costs (including enforcement costs) to implement each option;
(iv) the expected increase in nontaxed fuels and the impact of taxing those fuels;
(v) the likely technological advances that could ease implementation of each option;
(vi) the equity and economic efficiency of each option;
(vii) the flexibility of different options to allow various pricing alternatives to be implemented; and
(viii) potential compatibility issues with State and local tax mechanisms under each alternative.
(B) Need and revenue analysis.--In developing financing recommendations under this subsection, the Commission shall distinguish between--
(i) the needs of, and revenues for, the surface transportation system that are eligible to receive funds from the Highway Trust Fund; and
(ii) the needs for projects and programs that are not eligible to receive funds from the Highway Trust Fund.
(8) Technical advisory committee.--The Secretary shall establish a technical advisory committee, in a manner consistent with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.), to collect and evaluate technical input from--
(A) appropriate Federal, State, and local officials with responsibility for transportation;
(B) appropriate State and local elected officials;
(C) transportation and trade associations;
(D) emergency management officials;
(E) freight providers;
(F) the general public; and
(G) other entities and persons determined to be appropriate by the Secretary to ensure a diverse range of views.
(9) Report and recommendations.--Not later than July 1, 2007, the Commission shall submit to Congress--
(A) a final report that contains a detailed statement of the findings and conclusions of the Commission; and
(B) the recommendations of the Commission for such legislation and administrative actions as the Commission considers to be appropriate.
(10) Powers of the commission.--
(A) Hearings.--The Commission may hold such hearings, meet and act at such times and places, take such testimony, and receive such evidence as the Commission considers advisable to carry out this section.
(B) Information from federal agencies.--
(i) In general.--The Commission may secure directly from a Federal agency such information as the Commission considers necessary to carry out this section.
(ii) Provision of information.--On request of the Chairperson of the Commission, the head of a Federal agency shall provide the requested information to the Commission.
(C) Postal services.--The Commission may use the United States mails in the same manner and under the same conditions as other agencies of the Federal Government.
(D) Donations.--The Commission may accept, use, and dispose of donations of services or property.
(11) Commission personnel matters.--
(A) Members.--A member of the Commission shall serve without pay but shall be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, at rates authorized for an employee of an agency under subchapter I of chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code, while away from the home or regular place of business of the member in the performance of the duties of the Commission.
(B) Contractors.--The Commission may enter into agreements with appropriate organizations, agencies, and entities to conduct the study required under this section, under the strategic guidance of the Commission.
(C) Administrative support.--On the request of the Commission, the Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration shall provide to the Commission, on a reimbursable basis, the administrative support and services necessary for the Commission to carry out the duties of the Commission under this section.
(D) Detail of personnel.--
(i) In general.--On the request of the Commission, the Secretary may detail, on a reimbursable basis, any of the personnel of the Department to the Commission to assist the Commission in carrying out the duties of the Commission under this section.
(ii) Civil service status.--The detail of the employee shall be without interruption or loss of civil service status or privilege.
(12) Cooperation.--The staff of the Secretary shall cooperate with the Commission in the study required under this section, including providing such nonconfidential data and information as are necessary to conduct the study.
(13) Relationship to other law.--
(A) In general.--Except as provided in subparagraphs (B) and (C), funds made available to carry out this section shall be available for obligation in the same manner as if the funds were apportioned under chapter 1 of title 23, United States Code.
(B) Federal share.--The Federal share of the cost of the study and the Commission under this section shall be 100 percent.
(C) Availability.--Funds made available to carry out this section shall remain available until expended.
(14) Definition of surface transportation system.--In this subsection, the term ``surface transportation system'' includes--
(A) the National Highway System, as defined in section 103(b) of title 23, United States Code;
(B) congressional high priority corridors;
(C) intermodal connectors;
(D) intermodal freight facilities;
(E) public transportation infrastructure and facilities; and
(F) freight and intercity passenger bus and rail infrastructure and facilities.
(15) Authorization of appropriations.--There is authorized to be appropriated from the Highway Trust Fund (other than the Mass Transit Account) to carry out this section $1,400,000 for each of fiscal years 2006 and 2007.
(16) Applicability of title 23.--Funds made available to carry out this section shall be available for obligation in the same manner as if such funds were apportioned under chapter 1 of title 23, United States Code; except that such funds shall remain available until expended, and the Federal share of the cost of a project under this section shall be as provided in this section.
(A) In general.--The Commission shall terminate on the date that is 180 days after the date on which the Commission submits the report of the Commission under paragraph (9).
(B) Records.--Not later than the date of termination of the Commission under subparagraph (A), all records and papers of the Commission shall be delivered to the Archivist of the United States for deposit in the National Archives.