Building Ladders of Opportunity to the Middle Class
The GROW AMERICA Act will build ladders of opportunity to help Americans get to the middle class by providing transportation options that are more affordable and reliable and by improving their quality of life through greater access to education and new job opportunities, including jobs in the transportation industry.
Transportation and economic opportunity and mobility are deeply interconnected:
- Transportation costs. Transportation is second to housing as the largest expense for American households, costing more than food, clothing, and health care.
- Transportation Options. Households with annual incomes of less than $25,000 are seven times less likely to have a car compared to higher income households.
- Job accessibility. Unreliable, infrequent bus service and streets with unsafe sidewalks or crosswalks interfere with reaching jobs and other destinations.
To address these issues, the GROW AMERICA Act will provide millions of Americans with access to safer and less expensive transportation options. Forty-five percent of Americans don’t have access to public transportation. The GROW AMERICA Act will invest $72 billion in public transportation programs and expand transportation options:
- Provides $2.2 billion to help rapidly-growing communities invest in new bus rapid transit lines;
- Supports $11 billion for Capital Investment Grants for new and expanded public transportation service; and
- Offers $5 billion per year in additional funds to fix aging bus and rail infrastructure for better and more reliable transit service.
The GROW AMERICA Act will help focus transportation planning on providing jobs and economic opportunity. Ten communities will take part in a $70 million pilot program to develop better practices to connect neighborhoods to jobs, education, and other opportunities. DOT will use the lessons learned from this pilot program and share these best practices across the country to encourage transportation investments that improve community connectivity.
The GROW AMERICA Act will allow more Americans to join and prosper in the transportation and infrastructure workforce. The bill will provide $245 million over four years for workforce development to support and enhance the size, diversity, and skills of our nation’s construction and transportation workforce through collaborative partnerships with the U.S. Department of Labor, States, and non-governmental organizations. It also creates an incentive grant program for States that utilize their federal on-the-job training funds effectively.
- Transportation accounts for 11 million jobs nationwide, and transportation-related employment accounts for about 8.7 percent of civilian workers in the United States.
- Every $1 billion in public infrastructure spending creates 13,000 jobs.
The GROW AMERICA Act will enhance communities and improve safety by:
- Providing $5 billion over four years for the TIGER Grant program. This program has allowed the Department to support innovative multimodal, port, rail, safety and streetscape projects that have been difficult to address through traditional funding programs. The TIGER program empowers local decision makers to direct safety investments that make sense for their communities.
- The bill will incentivize Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) - the regional agencies that help plan infrastructure investments - to become more effective, rewarding high performing MPOs with control of a higher portion of funds under three federal transportation programs, the Surface Transportation Program, the Transportation Alternatives Program, and a new Metropolitan Mobility Program, a portion of the Fixing and Accelerating Surface Transportation (FAST) Program.
- Requiring state planners to consider the needs and safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists and transit users when planning highways; low-income workers are more dependent on these methods to reach their jobs. The bill will also require states that have high numbers of pedestrian and bicycle fatalities to spend more of their safety funds to address safety for these groups.
- Giving priority to veterans in transportation research, commercial truck driver training, and workforce development programs.