June 08, 2021

The INVEST in America Act = Investments in Rural America

Newly-introduced five-year surface transportation bill proposes record investments in rural and smaller communities 

Washington, DC – Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) highlighted provisions of the newly-introduced surface transportation bill that would make landmark infrastructure investments in rural and smaller communities, including targeted resources to improve safety, fix rural roads and bridges, and increase access to jobs and services. Tomorrow, the committee will consider the INVEST in America Act, a five-year, $547 billion surface transportation bill that will create jobs by rebuilding and re-imagining federal investments in America’s roads, bridges, transit, and rail.

“As someone who represents one of the largest congressional districts by area, comprised of many rural communities, I’m proud to bring the unique needs of smaller towns and cities to the forefront of our push to make transformative investments in our nation’s infrastructure,” said Chair Peter DeFazio, who represents Oregon’s 4th District. “The fact is rural communities often don’t have the resources to fix roads and structurally deficient bridges, even though this infrastructure can be a critical link for residents, small businesses, and emergency vehicles. Rural areas also often lack commercial air service, and are home to a significant number of aging and older residents who need transit options to go grocery shopping or get to medical appointments. The INVEST in America Act can be a game-changer for people who live in smaller communities—not only by improving safety and mobility, but also by creating and sustaining good-paying jobs in the parts of our country that often need them most.”

Specifically, the INVEST in America Act would benefit rural areas in the following ways:

  • Provides $290 billion in directly apportioned funding to state departments of transportation to invest in communities of all sizes to improve safety, fix roads and bridges, and improve access to jobs. Project decisions will be made by the state and local governments, not the federal government.
  • Reforms the Surface Transportation Program to ensure that smaller cities and towns receive their fair share of highway funding.
  • Increases the off-system bridge set-aside, providing approximately $1 billion in annual investment in off-system bridges out of highway formulas to repair deficient and unsafe bridges in rural and small communities.
  • Establishes a new Rebuild Rural Bridges discretionary grant program to provide $1 billion to rehabilitate or replace off-system bridges, Tribal bridges, and other rural bridges in poor condition.
  • Increases funding for dedicated rural transit formula grants by 50%, supporting rural transit infrastructure.
  • Increases the High-Risk Rural Roads set-aside to direct more funding for crucial safety projects in rural communities.
  • Provides $2.4 billion over the life of the bill for a new Community Transportation Investment Grant program dedicated to local government applicants in communities of all sizes. At least 25% of these funds must be spent in rural areas.
  • Sets aside $50 million a year for rural areas with persistent poverty counties, defined as a county with a poverty rate above 20% since 1990. Requires states to distribute these federal funds to persistent poverty counties.
  • Provides $1 billion over the life of the bill for Community Climate Investment Grants to reduce carbon pollution, dedicated to applicants in communities of all sizes, including an emphasis on rural persistent poverty communities.
  • Streamlines the TIFIA grant program to make it easier for rural projects to access federal loan assistance, expediting the credit rating process, waiving fees for more projects, and requiring DOT to report on the location of TIFIA-assisted projects.
  • Boosts total tribal transportation funding to $1 billion per year in guaranteed investment, which will predominantly support rural areas.
  • Creates a Mobility Innovation program that allows rural transit agencies to invest in new mobility technologies to provide innovative service that meets the unique needs of rural areas.
  • Provides for the creation of additional critical rural freight corridors, allowing states to direct funds to high-priority roadways essential for keeping our economy moving.
  • Streamlines the process by which the Federal Transit Administration provides funds to rural and small communities, ensuring that they receive federal funds more quickly.
  • Establishes a new wildlife crossings program to reduce vehicle-wildlife crashes and improve habitat connectivity and sets aside 50% of funding for rural areas.
  • Ensures better coordination between states and broadband entities, supporting “dig once” policies that will allow for better access to broadband for rural America. 
  • Increases the amount of funds that rural recipients can use for workforce training and capacity building.
  • Provides $29.3 billion for Amtrak, of which $16.2 billion is dedicated to Amtrak’s National Network, which includes long-distance and state-supported routes that connect rural communities.
  • Provides $7 billion for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program, of which $1.05 billion is dedicated to rural projects, 280% more than the FAST Act set-aside.
  • Renews Amtrak’s mandate to provide long distance service to the entire country—beyond coastal population centers.

More information:

Click here for more information about the INVEST in America Act, including bill text, a section-by-section, and a fact sheet.