Obama seeks action on transportation bill

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American Trucking Associations officials on Wednesday, Aug. 31, applauded President Obama after his call for Congress to address the nation’s inadequate surface transportation system.

“President Obama is right to tell Congress to focus on the long-overdue highway bill,” ATA Senior Vice President for Legislative Affairs Mary Phillips said after attending a White House event where the president made his remarks. “We saw the havoc that a temporary shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration had on that sector, and the country cannot afford the job losses and lapse in safety programs that would result from the highway bill expiring.”

Phillips said ATA joined the president in calling for quick passage of another extension, but added that more extensions are no replacement for a long-term federal highway authorization.

“Given the unlikelihood that the House and Senate will agree on a long-term bill by the September 30 deadline, another extension is necessary,” she said. “However, Congress must also quickly craft a well-funded multiyear transportation bill that focuses federal resources on projects that are in the national interest and reform federal rules to improve the safety and efficiency of the highway system.”

David Osiecki, ATA senior vice president of policy and regulatory affairs, said a new reauthorization “must invest in the highways and bridges that carry nearly 70 percent of the nation’s freight, rather than on things that aren’t part of a core federal program, including rail, transit and nonhighway projects.” Osiecki also cautioned the administration about the courting of private sector financing for public infrastructure.

“On the heels of the Department of Transportation Inspector General’s report that highlights the perils of public-private partnerships, we continue to encourage the administration and Congress to look at traditional funding sources, including the fuel tax,” he said.