Sprunger’s SAFER Act gains Governor’s nod and hits the open road
Freshman lawmaker’s $100 million roads and bridges fund signed March 13
HELENA, Mont. (March 13, 2023)— House Bill 267, known as The SAFER Act and sponsored by Representative Sprunger, R-Kalispell, was signed today by Governor Greg Gianforte at a ceremony on the Montana State Capitol. The SAFER Act forms a fund for the sole function of providing state match dollars for road and bridge projects.
“Every year, the state has as much as a billion dollars in road work. However, we only have $400 million dollars available, leading to a growing list of deferred maintenance and degrading roadways. Through the SAFER Act, we will be able to infuse $750 to $850 million in federal one-time-only dollars into our roads and bridges over the next five to seven years. This generational investment will make a tremendous difference for our state and I thank the Governor for his visionary leadership in supporting the SAFER Act,” said Representative Sprunger.
Funds from the SAFER Act will provide the match dollars required to secure both federal transportation grants and additional one-time-only (OTO) federal funding opportunities available annually through August redistribution of federal dollars. The state of Montana does presently pursue these opportunities but with the SAFER Act signed into law, the capacity to secure much-needed funds is now tremendously increased. Funds from the SAFER Act will be used to tackle Montana’s high-priority road, bridges, and safety projects as identified by the Transportation Commission and executed by Montana Department of Transportation.
Per the legislation, up to $15 million per year may be used in match for grants and redistribution dollars. Based on state-federal match rates, this will allow the Montana Department of Transportation to leverage the $100 million dollar SAFER fund to secure an estimated $700 to $800 million dollars in federal match dollars. Any unused dollars in a year will roll forward until the fund is expended.
By securing these dollars, officials also anticipate staving off a gas tax increase in the immediate future.
“For a decade, I’ve worked on transportation projects across the state and the resounding message from Montanans has been that we need to do more to reduce traffic congestion and improve safety,” said Sprunger. “I committed to driving infrastructure solutions and tackling traffic on roadways such as the Kalispell Bypass and West Reserve Drive. The SAFER Act takes a big step toward that goal in the Flathead, and it will provide a similar opportunity for communities throughout Montana.”
More information on HB 267 can be found at The Montana Legislature Bill Lookup Site. Representative Courtenay Sprunger serves on behalf of Montana House District 7, the heart of Kalispell.