ATA: Obama’s infrastructure plans need funding

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The American Trucking Associations on Wednesday, Jan. 25, said the Obama administration and Congress need to focus on finding real money following comments made by the president during his State of the Union address regarding infrastructure funding.

“As users of America’s highways, ATA was heartened to hear President Obama once again highlight the need to do something – anything – about our crumbling infrastructure,” says Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer. “However, it was with little surprise that the president once again failed to commit to putting real, concrete sources of funding behind that rhetoric. Right now, the country doesn’t need more empty promises and rhetoric about the importance of repairing roads and bridges as a way to put Americans back to work. What the country needs is money – money from real sources, not promises of private investment or redirected savings.”

Both the House and Senate have committed publicly to completing work on the pending transportation authorization. Only two of the four Senate committees responsible for portions of the bill have completed their work, Commerce and EPW, leaving Banking and Finance. Sen. Harry Reid has said that the authorization bill will be a top priority this year, but with other bills in line, consideration of the authorization on the Senate floor likely will have to wait until February at the earliest.

On the House side, neither committee, Transportation & Infrastructure and Ways & Means, has marked up a bill. Rep. John Mica has committed to having the bill in his T&I committee ready to go by early to mid-February, and House Speaker John Boehner has indicated he’d like to have the bill to the House floor by March in order to complete work before the March 31 extension deadline.

During his address, Obama called on federal agencies to cut red tape in construction projects while increasing transparency and continuing rigorous scrutiny of each project proposal.

“While promises of speeding the construction process will help in the short term, in the long term, it still boils down to funding,” Graves says. “In our recovery from the Great Recession, trucking just wrapped up its most successful year in a decade, and we expect with continued improvement in manufacturing and growth in international trade that we will be called on to haul more goods and drive more miles than ever. In order to do this efficiently and safely, we need the administration and Congress to come together on a well-funded multiyear highway bill that makes smart investments in roads and bridges with real dollars. As the president said, ‘There’s never been a better time to build.’ ”