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US politicians to debate radical reform of Federal transport programmes

The US Congress Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure is to debate a radical plan to reform the way national transport programmes are planned and funded.

The committee will look at a proposal that aims to reform and streamline programmes, cut red tape in the project approval process, increase states’ flexibility in determining their most critical transportation needs, and encourage private sector participation in financing infrastructure projects.

The proposal would be introduced via a American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act. The committee believes the legislation would be the largest transportation reform bill since the US Interstate highway system was created in 1956.

In the US, federal funds can only be spent via a bill authorised by Congress, the Senate and the President. The last bill expired over two years ago and since then funds have been allocated and spent via a series of short term extensions. But transport experts have long called for a new bill that would allow more funds to be invested, either through higher fuel tax or by encouraging more private investment. But previous attempts to reach agreement have all failed.

The committee will debate the new proposal on Thursday.

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