Week ahead: Senate reviews highway funding, readiness for storms

Highways will be a focus of lawmakers this week as the Senate holds hearings on the funding for future road construction and the costs of not be prepared for weather emergencies.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on the necessity of a reauthorization of the 2012 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) bill.

Officials with the panel said the hearing would focus on “the economic importance of maintaining federal investments in our transportation infrastructure.”

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The hearing comes after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said last week that a new six-year transportation bill would require nearly $100 billion in addition revenue to maintain current levels of road and transit spending.

The projection assumes the 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax will continue bringing in approximately $34 billion per year, but lawmakers will have to come up with the rest of the money.

Meanwhile, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs will also hold a hearing on Wednesday officials say will allow lawmakers to examine “extreme weather events, focusing on the costs of not being prepared.”

The hearing follows controversial about gridlock on major highways in Atlanta last month after a rare southeast snow storm.

Highways in Atlanta were largely shutdown for multiple days in January after Atlanta received two inches of snow. Local government officials squabbled about jurisdiction for the highway amid national criticism about the city and state of Georgia’s lack of preparedness for the snow storm.

Additionally in the Senate this week, the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will meet on Thursday to examine rail safety.

The hearing comes after a series of high-profile accidents involving passenger and freight trains last year.

Officials said the hearing will allow lawmakers to “examine enhancing our rail safety, focusing on current challenges for passenger and freight rail.”

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will meet on Tuesday to hold a roundtable to discuss “case studies in public-private parternships.”

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a field hearing on Monday at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida “assessing NASA’s underutilized real property assets.”