Transportation has been a pressing issue in Congress so far this summer, with many pushing bills to be advanced before a congressional recess beginning in August. The laws introduced address transportation concerns from railroad safety and service to safe truck parking. Here are the most significant pieces of transportation legislation in Congress now.
Railway Safety Act
Created in response to the February train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, the Railway Safety Act is a bill that aims to tighten regulations that prevent these kinds of railway disasters. The bill introduced by Ohio’s senators has a few main goals; to require wayside detectors at regular intervals, increase the minimum crew size to two, require wayside detectors at regular intervals, and impose stiffer penalties for safety violations. The bill is likely to bring the most impact, however, by revisiting the definition of “high-hazard” trains and the heightening safety requirements of these trains.
The bill passed the Senate Commerce Committee and is headed for the Senate floor. While doubts have been raised about the bill’s support, the sponsoring senators from Ohio have gained support on both sides of the aisle and are confident the bill will pass with 60 votes and avoid the filibuster.
Reliable Rail Service Act
Another bill reintroduced in the Senate, this time out of Wisconsin, is the Reliable Rail Service Act. The bill aims to clear up the ambiguity of the common carrier obligation, “which under current law requires rail carriers to serve the wider shipping public ‘on reasonable request.'” The bill also seeks to establish specific criteria for the Surface Transportation Board to consider when deciding if a rail carrier violated its obligation. According to lawmakers, these revisions would reduce service impacts that have become increasingly apparent since the pandemic added stress to railway transportation.
An earlier version of this bill failed in Committee last September, but lawmakers hope the momentum gained by other transportation legislation will boost their campaign.
Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act
In an ongoing effort from many truckers’ advocacy organizations, the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The bill hopes to invest $755 million in competitive grants to create and improve parking for commercial drivers. Among one of the biggest ongoing concerns for tuckers, improved parking has become a significant goal of truckers’ advocacy organizations like the American Trucking Association.
Transportation legislation is an ever-evolving landscape in Congress, and we are here to keep you updated at www.godrivers360.com/blog.
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