The surface transportation reauthorization debate just took a leap forward with the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee’s passage of “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” (MAP-21), its bipartisan, two-year bill. The bill passed by a unanimous vote of 18 to 0, according to the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA).
NSSGA commends committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), senior committee Republican James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and subcommittee ranking member David Vitter (R-La.) for their leadership and commitment to addressing this national priority. Their efforts, joined in by the majority of their Republican and Democratic colleagues, show that bipartisanship is possible to achieve what is right for the American people.
Although NSSGA has worked for a six-year bill, bringing two years of certainty and stability to the program at level funding is essential to economic recovery and growth, creating jobs and maintaining America’s global competitiveness. NSSGA Chairman of the Board Dave Thomey, executive vice president, Maryland Materials Inc., said, “The Senate EPW Committee action has been long-awaited and comes none too soon. The construction industry sector is struggling to stay afloat in these tough economic times. Passage of MAP-21 will bring needed certainty that is essential to the states in moving forward on highway projects and to informed capital and resource allocation decisions by business. It is consistent with my theme for the year – to restore the American dream in which freedom of mobility is an important value.”
NSSGA President and CEO Joy Wilson commented, “NSSGA has long supported many of the provisions in MAP-21. These include continued level funding of the program at a minimum, renewed focus on the needs of the system and more efficient and cost-effective delivery of services, consolidation of transportation programs and increased accountability, expedited review and permitting of highway projects and a dedicated freight program. MAP-21 will restore stability to the surface transportation program while we transition to a new financing mechanism in the future.” Wilson pledged that NSSGA would continue to work hand-in-hand with the committee and its transportation industry partners for passage of a multi-year surface transportation reauthorization before the end of the current extension on March 31, 2012.
American Road & Transportation Builders Association President Pete Ruane said he supports the bill. “Today's unanimous vote in the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee in support of a two-year surface transportation bill that would maintain current authorization levels and institute a host of important policy reforms is a critical step toward beginning to address the nation's enormous infrastructure challenges. It also demonstrates that bipartisanship is still a viable option in the pursuit of public policy solutions. We commend Chairman Boxer and Senators Inhofe, Baucus and Vitter for their leadership in producing the MAP-21 proposal. As positive as today's action is – particularly after more than two years of temporary extensions – the fundamental obstacle to a multi-year surface transportation bill remains. We urge the Senate Finance Committee to act quickly in securing the additional revenue necessary to support the bill's transportation investments. Hundreds of thousands of American jobs are at risk until both the Senate and House complete action on a long-term highway and transit reauthorization bill.”
Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) President Dennis Slater addressed the importance of infrastructure investment to global competitiveness. “Road and bridge deterioration is one of the greatest barriers to global competitiveness,” he said. “U.S. manufacturers and farmers alike say deteriorating roads, bridges and highways cost them time and money transporting their products to ports for export to overseas markets. For example, the recently passed export agreements with Columbia, South Korea and Panama have the potential to create thousands of new jobs, but if farmers and manufacturers can’t transport products at a competitive rate, they lose. Global competitiveness and productivity require modernizing and rebuilding America’s transportation system. Bipartisan support in Congress for the transportation reauthorization bill is vital to U.S. manufacturers and farmers.”
John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials agreed with the objectives outlined in the MAP-21 legislation “to help ensure accountability and stewardship of federal surface transportation investments, improve the efficiency of the regulatory review process for transportation improvements, and leverage private sector resources through an expanded TIFIA Program.
“After more than two years of short-term extensions and with an economy desperate for an immediate boost, action on this multi-year surface transportation reauthorization bill should occur as soon as possible,” he said. “We fully recognize that money alone will not deliver the transportation network our nation requires, and that is why we strongly support program reforms. We also believe that failing to supplement current Highway Trust Fund revenues would lead to a more than 30 percent cut in every state's federal highway and public transportation funds. With so many jobs on the line – perhaps as many as 600,000 jobs, according to the USDOT – including the current funding levels plus inflation is a key step in starting to address our nation's surface transportation needs.”