Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said during a July 10 hearing that he wants to see a five-year surface transportation funding bill approved by the committee by Aug. 1.
“If we do not pass a long-term surface transportation bill, and instead pass a series of short-term extensions, we will undermine our states’ abilities to plan for these challenges. That is not a good option,” he said. “We have an obligation to get this done. Our highway infrastructure legislation will be for all of America.”
NSSGA welcomed the focus from Chairman Barrasso and Ranking Member Tom Carper, D-Del., on surface transportation funding. The association has met with staff and senators on the committee to emphasize the need for a long-term and sustainably-funded bill.
When it comes to funding surface transportation projects, Barrasso noted that the committees of jurisdiction should focus on sustainable funding driven by all users of the nation’s infrastructure. “I am committed to making sure that everyone who uses the roads contributes to maintaining and improving them. That must include electric vehicles and other alternative fuel vehicles which will become an increasing share of the cars on the roads,” he said.
Sen. Carper also voiced support for marking up the bill this summer. “While none of us travels with the goal of sitting in traffic or getting into an accident or worsening climate change, so many of our roadways are so outdated, in dangerous condition or in desperate need of redesign, that they are leading to outcomes that none of us want,” he said.
NSSGA, as part of the Americans for Transportation Mobility coalition, continues to add to a series of videos that focus on the costs of outdated roads, highways and bridges. The latest video features Dennis Slater, president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, and notes that better infrastructure helps to create economic opportunities and preserves a good quality of life.
Finally, Barrasso noted that regulations must also be streamlined in order to lower the costs of infrastructure projects – something that NSSGA has long advocated for.
“By cutting Washington red tape, highway projects can get done better, faster, cheaper, and smarter. In our legislation, we must – reduce the time it takes for federal permitting, we need to lower paperwork burdens on states, and we need to incorporate innovative construction approaches and other technologies,” he said.