Letter on Surface Transportation Priorities

We look forward to working closely with the respective Senate and House committees to help advance a new surface transportation authorization that delivers a comprehensive national strategy for infrastructure because a strong state-territorial-federal partnership is critical to the success of our nation’s surface transportation system.

The Honorable Chuck Schumer
Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Minority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
Minority Leader
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Majority Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader McConnell, and Minority Leader McCarthy:

Governors stand ready to engage and support your efforts to draft and pass a comprehensive surface transportation reauthorization bill that provides the federal policy and funding predictability that states and territories require to support our nation’s multimodal surface transportation and infrastructure systems. As Congress and the Administration prepare to also consider a broader infrastructure investment package – which goes beyond the reauthorization bill’s scope of highways, bridges, transit and rail – Governors look forward to working in a bipartisan manner to ensure state and territory needs are addressed.

Based on the National Governors Association’s Principles for National Infrastructure Investment, we urge committee leadership to adopt the following recommendations to ensure the intergovernmental relationship between federal surface transportation investments and state and territory action remains strong and productive:

ENSURE DEDICATED, LONG-TERM FUNDING AND FINANCING. No single stream of revenue or approach to financing will address all the gaps. States and territories need a comprehensive approach that allows for leveraging a variety of funding sources and flexibility to match the right tool with each project. States and territories succeed when there is certainty and stability in long-term federal resources ensuring workforce and economic vitality. Governors support:

  • Increasing the funding levels and preserving formula distributions of the FAST Act, which outline how state DOTs receive their funds and how they are required to be spent at the state level or sub-allocated to MPOs. Governors also support increasing territorial funding levels under the FAST Act to SAFETEA-LU funding levels or higher. The FAST Act increased funding to states and Washington, D.C., but it did not restore the 20 percent funding cut to territories under the MAP-21 Act.
  • Reliability and certainty of formula funding and state and territorial flexibility of surface transportation dollars, such as federal fund exchange programs, rather than prescriptive requirements for funding usage or new discretionary grant programs.
  • Providing new tools and resources to help state, territorial, and local governments bring projects to the market and access public- and private-sector capital and expertise through the expanded use of TIFIA, Public Private Partnerships (P3), state P3 offices, flexibility for maximizing revenue opportunities on interstate highway facilities, privatizing interstate rest areas, infrastructure asset inventories, and predevelopment grants.
  • Funding that allows flexible approaches to investing in infrastructure safety, as well as proactive public safety efforts such as educational campaigns, research, enforcement, and innovative or pilot projects.

FIX NOW AND INVEST IN THE FUTURE. We must fix and expand existing infrastructure and invest in resiliency and security to modernize it for future generations. We must attend to needs across our rural, urban, and suburban areas. Infrastructure encompasses more than roads and bridges. It also includes city and community development, mass transit, freight rail, intercity passenger and commuter rail, seaports and airports, inland waterways, broadband, and electric vehicle charging networks. Governors support:

  • Limited waivers for the most vulnerable or underserved communities, allowing up to 100 percent of the cost of the project covered by the federal government to ensure resiliency measures are affordable and implementable.
  • Alleviating the maintenance backlog and flexibility to increase capacity where necessary and appropriate and to spur economic activity.
  • Flexibility to incorporate broadband conduit installation into new highway construction and resurfacing programs, which enhances not only basic broadband accessibility, but also provides information for use in pre-disaster planning and for the electronic transfer of information to connected and autonomous vehicles.
  • Resiliency as a key element to consider in all phases of transportation project development, including planning and design, promoting resiliency in surface transportation construction projects. Funding allocation may be based on the asset type, importance, conditions, vulnerability, and the magnitude as well as the type and frequency of events for a given region.

STREAMLINE PROJECT DELIVERY. Governors support federal actions that streamline project delivery, reduce approval and completion times, and increase transparency, but also achieve important environmental stewardship and community goals. States and territories believe that federal infrastructure program reforms are the most effective when they limit federal requirements that preempt state and territory flexibility. Governors support:

  • Policy codification establishing a two-year goal for completion of environmental reviews and a 90-day timeline for related project authorizations.
  • Streamlining requirements for funds used for Emergency Relief programs and expanding eligibility to include resilience work in replacement projects.
  • Clear guidance that is developed collaboratively with the states and territories on the front lines of delivering infrastructure that would modernize the delivery process in an efficient manner without sacrificing the important safeguards the processes were designed to ensure.

INNOVATE. Governors believe that innovative technologies should be embraced to achieve resiliency, security, safety, and efficiency. Infrastructure should incorporate new capabilities to increase connectivity, autonomy, digital information, and electrification. States and territories are leading the way in embracing new practices and technologies that provide innovative solutions to traditional infrastructure needs; federal investments should be integrated and reward positive, evidence-based outcomes. Governors support:

  • A federal freight strategy that provides flexibility for states and territories to designate freight corridors within their borders to connect to the national and international economy and to address states’ and territories’ unique needs and geographic interests.
  • Innovative contracting for Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) initiatives to achieve state-of-the-art transportation management solutions.
  • Additional funding for the installation of alternative fueling infrastructure along the designated alternative fuel corridors, including signage along the corridor and wayfinding signs.
  • Innovation for connected and autonomous vehicles, while preserving the traditional federal, state, and territorial roles when it comes to vehicle safety standards and safety of vehicle operations.

We look forward to working closely with the respective Senate and House committees to help advance a new surface transportation authorization that delivers a comprehensive national strategy for infrastructure because a strong state-territorial-federal partnership is critical to the success of our nation’s surface transportation system.


Andy Beshear
Governor, Kentucky

Henry McMaster
Governor, South Carolina

NGA Economic Recovery and Revitalization Task Force Co-Chairs


Chairman Carper and Ranking Member Capito, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

Chairman Brown and Ranking Member Toomey, Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee

Chair Cantwell and Ranking Member Wicker, Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee

Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Crapo, Senate Finance Committee

Chairman DeFazio and Ranking Member Graves, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

Chairman Neal and Ranking Member Brady, House Ways and Means Committee