Wednesday, April 30, 2014

USDOT sends long-term transportation bill to Congress

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is sending a long-term transportation bill to Congress for consideration as the House and Senate face deadlines to avoid the economic uncertainty and job loss that would ensue if the Highway Trust Fund runs out of money this summer.

 

The Grow America Act reflects President Obama's vision for a four-year surface transportation reauthorization bill that would create millions of jobs and lay the foundation for long-term competitiveness, rebuilding crumbling roads and bridges while providing much-needed certainty for local and state governments and addressing the country's future needs.

"I visited eight states and 13 cities as part of my Invest in America, Commit to the Future bus tour this month and everywhere I went, I heard the same thing – people want more transportation options and better roads and bridges to get them where they need to go," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "Failing to act before the Highway Trust Fund runs out is unacceptable and unaffordable. This proposal offers the kind of job creation and certainty that the American people want and deserve. I have been pleased to see that members of both parties are already working together to solve these challenges and I look forward to continuing our discussion and to supporting and building on the good work that's already been done."

On February 26, Secretary Foxx joined President Obama to announce a plan to address the nation's infrastructure deficit with a $302 billion, four-year surface transportation reauthorization proposal. As outlined in the FY2015 budget, the plan will invest in the national infrastructure network, increase safety and efficiency and provide greater access to ladders of opportunity, all without adding to the deficit, by relying on the President's proposed pro-growth business tax reforms.

The Grow America Act is based on this plan and represents a number of proposals that have historically attracted bipartisan support including:

• Addressing the shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund and providing an additional $87 billion to address the nation's backlog of deficient bridges and aging transit systems
• Providing certainty to state and local governments that must engage in long-term planning
• Reducing project approval and permitting timelines while delivering better outcomes for communities and the environment
• Bolstering efficient and reliable freight networks to support trade and economic growth
• Creating incentives to better align planning and investment decisions to comprehensively address regional economic needs while strengthening local decision-making.

In the face of current uncertainty of federal transportation investment, many states have postponed or canceled needed transportation projects altogether. And without additional investment, deficiencies in the nation's infrastructure will cost businesses more than $1 trillion every year in lost sales. The USDOT says that despite this growing need, the Highway Trust Fund, which provides most of the federal support for state transportation projects, is on track to start bouncing checks as early as August.

 

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