Senate Committee Passes DRIVE Act

Recently, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works unanimously passed a six-year surface transportation bill known as the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act. The bipartisan bill, introduced by Senators James Inhofe (OK) and Barbara Boxer (CA), includes transportation policies that will create more roads and bridges, establish a new freight program, enhance the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program, and continue the ASLA-supported Transportation Alternatives Program.     

The committee voted to accept several amendments that were supported by ASLA and active transportation coalition members, including amendments to improve the Transportation Alternatives Program, encourage transit-oriented development, and promote pollinator habitats in federal rights-of-way. They are:

Transportation Alternatives Program
Senator Ben Cardin's (MD) amendment to make technical corrections to the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) to maintain local control of certain TAP funds by ensuring that states can’t transfer funding that has been allocated to local governments. This important change would allow communities to have certainty in funding levels. Under current law, states could transfer 50 percent of sub-allocated funds at any time, which creates a planning uncertainties for local communities.

Transit-Oriented Development
Senator Ed Markey’s (MA) amendment to encourage transit-oriented development. Specifically, the amendment would allow TIFIA funds to be used for capital projects located within walking distance of and accessible to transit facilities, rail stations, intercity bus stations, or intermodal facilities. Markey thanked the committee for including this amendment stating, “I think this change towards how we view development, ensuring that there is upfront financing available for core centers of development around transit locations is very important.”

Highway BEE Act
The committee also accepted an amendment offered by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and Jeff Merkley (OR) to encourage integrated vegetation management practices in federal rights-of-way that provide habitats for pollinators. The amendment includes the language of H.R. 2738, the Highways Bettering the Economy and Environment (BEE) Pollinator Protection Act that was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressmen Jeff Denham and Alcee Hastings.

The DRIVE Act now moves onto other Senate committees for consideration. ASLA will continue to work with those committees to ensure that transportation policies important to landscape architects are included in the final version of the bill.


Kevin Fry
Director, PR and

JR Taylor
PR Coordinator