Industry reaction to the passage of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), the two-year infrastructure bill just passed by Congress, was positive yet cautious.
NSSGA Chairman Ron Summers, senior vice president, Materials Division, CalPortland Co., Glendora, Calif., hailed the action on MAP-21 , thanking members of Congress for passing a legislative package that will fund the nation’s roads, bridges and mass transit for the next 27 months. The bill assures the employment of three million Americans in the construction industry, where unemployment has outpaced the national rate.
“This bill will help put the aggregates industry back on the road to economic growth,” said NSSGA President and CEO Joy Pinniger. “Every $1 million in aggregates sales creates 19.5 jobs, and every dollar of industry output returns $1.58 to the economy.” She noted that the bill includes historic reforms that consolidate programs and eliminate program redundancies, as well as expediting the project approval process.
“Both Republicans and Democrats deserve a lot of credit for the new surface transportation law the President signed today,” said American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President and CEO Pete Ruane. “This law is going to restore public confidence in the federal highway and transit investment program.
“This wasn’t business as usual, just ‘rearranging the deck chairs,’ adding pet programs and throwing money at congressional earmarks,” Ruane said. “The new law is truly a ‘good government’ measure that makes the significant program reforms necessary to set the stage for meaningful, transparent and accountable federal transportation investments in the future. “
“The law has no congressional earmarks,” he said. “It focuses federal dollars on meeting critical national needs like efficient freight movement and driving down the number of motor vehicle crashes that result in unnecessary American deaths and injuries. It eliminates, consolidates or streamlines dozens of programs, giving state and local governments more decision-making control. It opens the door to more private investment in large, congestion-busting transportation projects. And, most importantly, it ushers in performance standards and reporting requirements so that the public will now know how their federal transportation dollars are being used and what kind of return on investment they are receiving.”
ARTBA Chairman Paul Yarossi, president of HNTB Holdings, Ltd., who attended the White House signing ceremony with Ruane, announced the formation of an ARTBA industry task force to spearhead an effort to secure additional federal investment in transportation programs as part of any new omnibus budget and tax reform legislation. The group will also work with federal and state agencies on implementation of the new law.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) applauded Congress for coming to agreement on MAP-21.
“We commend the leadership of House Speaker Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Reid for encouraging agreement on a bipartisan bill that will bring us 27 months of much needed funding certainty and program stability,” said Kirk Steudle, Michigan Department of Transportation director and AASHTO president.
“This agreement is a real credit to Senators Boxer, Baucus, Inhofe, Vitter, Rockefeller, Hutchison, Johnson and Shelby, and their counterparts in the House – Representatives Mica, Rahall, Camp and Levin – who fought hard on behalf of our nation's transportation system,” said John Horsley, AASHTO executive director. “These leaders showed real courage in moving the process forward to reach agreement when most people thought it was impossible to get there.”
“Action taken by the House and Senate to approve a multiyear surface transportation bill ensures that the nation’s highway and transit programs will continue uninterrupted,” Horsley continued. “Without this legislation, drastic cutbacks would have been necessary due to a revenue shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund. There are many things to like in this bill, including providing funding for surface transportation programs at current levels and extending user fees and the Highway Trust Fund through Fiscal Year 2016. We also are pleased that the legislation includes needed reforms to stretch taxpayer dollars with expanded innovative finance, improved efficiency with program consolidation, streamlined project delivery, and improved accountability with performance measures.”
Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) Chair and Krone North America President and CEO Rusty Fowler issued the following statement: “On behalf of AEM, the 21,000 members of the I Make America campaign and all of our industry allies, we appreciate Congress coming together to pass a surface transportation bill. This long overdue legislation is critical to market certainty and economic growth, and I encourage the President to sign this into law without delay.
“While we fully understand that the House and Senate did what they could to get a bill passed, we also want to remind them that there is still more work to be done. The comprehensive infrastructure investment our country needs requires a long-term strategic vision and a well-structured, sustainable funding mechanism in order to be effective. The much-needed two years of market certainty provided by the legislation passed in Congress today should be used by all to continue working on a more effective infrastructure solution to keep America strong and competitive for years to come.”