Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett released the following statement after she and her colleagues on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure voted the “H.R. 2 – Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America [INVEST in America] Act” favorably out of committee:
“Last week, I joined my committee, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, in voting out of committee H.R. 2 – Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America [INVEST in America] Act, a key component of the Moving Forward Framework that House Democrats released earlier this year. The INVEST in America Act would help communities around the country undertake transformative infrastructure projects that are smarter, safer and made to last.
“Fixing our crumbling infrastructure by making it easier for communities in my district to carry out transformational projects is one of the reasons I came to Congress. We need bold ideas to fix our nation’s big infrastructure problems, and that is exactly what the INVEST in America Act is all about. I am proud to support this bill.
“This bill, as passed out of committee and with the hard work of my office, was able to secure the following measures for the Virgin Islands:
More than doubles the federal transportation infrastructure funding to the Virgin Islands, from $16.8 million annually to $40 million annually;
Provides more flexibility for federal funding to the Virgin Islands to be used for private ferry transportation projects;
Makes the Virgin Islands eligible to compete for numerous additional Department of Transportation grant programs available to states, including projects of national and regional significance;
Exempts U.S. territories from the non-federal match requirement for Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) projects;
Includes U.S. territories in the definition of ‘areas of persistent poverty’ for eligibility to receive transportation infrastructure grant funding that is set aside for such areas;
Contains more Federal Transit Administration funding to the Virgin Islands for buses and bus facilities;
Allows the Virgin Islands to use federal surface transportation funding for construction of access and development roads that will serve resource development, recreational, residential, commercial, industrial or other like purposes; and
Makes the Virgin Islands eligible for AMBER Alert grants for notification and communication systems regarding missing children along transportation routes.
“The INVEST in America Act authorizes nearly $500 billion over five years to address some of the country’s most urgent infrastructure needs, including:
Tackling the massive backlog of roads, bridges, transit and rail systems in need of repair and replacement;
Building resilient infrastructure that will withstand the impacts of climate change and extreme weather;
Designing streets that are safer for all road users, including pedestrians and cyclists;
Putting the U.S. on a path toward zero emissions from the transportation sector by prioritizing carbon pollution reduction, investing in public transit and the national passenger and freight rail network, building out fueling infrastructure for low- and zero-emission vehicles and deploying technology and innovative materials;
Sharply increasing funding for public transit options in urban, suburban and rural areas in order to integrate technology and increase routes and reliability with tools such as bus-only lanes and priority signaling;
Improving access to federal funding to help communities around the country undertake transformative projects that are smarter, safer and made to last.
“I am immensely grateful to my committee colleagues. We have spent months working on behalf of the American people to finalize this bill, and I am hopeful that this bill will pass the House of Representatives this week. I will be sending a letter to the governor this week requesting that he direct his lobbyists in Washington to advocate in the Senate for the measures my office was able to obtain in the House bill to remain in the Senate version.
“Additionally, this legislation fulfills one of my first promises before taking office: to significantly increase the federal highway funding for the Virgin Islands which would allow us to support a ferry system between St. Croix and St. Thomas. With a more than $23 million annual increase in federal highway funding and additional provisions to allow flexibility in funding for ferry systems, I am requesting that the Virgin Islands Legislature direct at least half of the new money, $11.6 million a year, toward a passenger and cargo ferry system between the two big islands. This set aside would create a much-needed vehicle for increase in commerce, economic growth as well as social and cultural enrichment.
“This bill does much to fix our crumbling infrastructure, cut carbon pollution from the transportation sector, and create millions of good-paying jobs in urban, suburban and rural communities. I’m glad to have been a part of its development and passage in the House and make sure the Virgin Islands was included.”