Tester Secures $6 Million for Montana State University’s Western Transportation Institute

Funding to increase rural road safety in Montana

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced $6,125,000 in Department of Transportation (DOT) grant funding for Montana State University’s Western Transportation Institute from the National Center for Excellence for Rural Road Safety.

“Montana’s roads and bridges have been long overdue for a serious upgrade, and this funding, along with my bipartisan infrastructure law, will ensure that travel in rural Montana will be safer for years to come,” said Tester. “Montana families and businesses rely on our highways and interstate system to move across our large state, and this is a great step towards guaranteeing that folks can travel or haul goods safely and efficiently.”

The DOT’s National Center for Excellence for Rural Road Safety promotes and supports strategic national surface transportation programs and activities relating to the work of State departments of transportation in the areas of environment, surface transportation safety, rural safety, and project finance. The program’s focus is providing technical assistance, information sharing, and training on rural road safety for State, local, and Tribal road owners and their stakeholders. A secondary and much smaller portion of the Rural Safety Center’s mission is to conduct research supporting rural safety and surface transportation safety.

Tester has long been a champion of safer roads and bridges, and worked across the aisle for months to negotiate his bipartisan infrastructure law, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, with a group of five Republicans, four Democrats, and the White House. Tester was the only member of Montana’s congressional delegation to vote for it the legislation, and it’s projected to create more than 800,000 American jobs and lower costs for businesses by making targeted investments that will strengthen our nation without raising taxes on working families.

He secured significant wins for Montana in the legislation, including $2.82 billion for Montana’s roads, highways and bridges; up to $100 million for the Milk River Project and $1 billion to complete all authorized rural water projects through the Bureau of Reclamation; $65 billion for high speed internet deployment and affordability in low-connectivity areas across the country; and $3.37 billion to reduce wildfire risk nationwide, among others. Tester also worked to ensure that all iron, steel, and construction materials used for these projects must be made in America.

Additional transportation provisions from Tester’s legislation can be found below:

  • Approximately $2.82 billion for Montana highways.
  • Montana will also receive approximately $225 million in additional funding for a new bridge initiative to replace and repair bridges in poor condition.
  • Approximately $164 million for Montana over five years to bolster public transit infrastructure, a roughly 30 percent increase.
  • The portion of bus funds set aside for rural areas was increased.
  • Funds to address highway safety and motor carrier safety were significantly increased, enabling Montana to save lives and reduce injuries on our roads.
  • Approximately $144 million for Montana airports.
  • A portion of the Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act of 2021, which cuts burdensome hours of service requirements that can prevent ag and livestock haulers from doing their jobs safely, and gives them the flexibility to ensure more of Montana’s world-class products can make it to market.
  • Tester’s DRIVE Safe Act, which creates a pilot program that lifts federal regulations that prevent Montana truck drivers under 21 years of age from transporting goods across state lines and establishes a new training initiative for 18 to 20-year-old truck drivers.
  • Tester’s Right Track Act and Blocked Railroad Crossing Bill, which improve safety at rural train crossings and addresses instances of blocked highway-railroad crossings across the U.S. $15 million to study Amtrak long-distance passenger rail travel. This includes funding and authorization to form working groups, like the Greater Northwest Passenger Rail Working Group, to study and advocate for increased access to long-distance passenger rail travel.

A list of the legislation’s provisions can be found HERE.