If Congress and the president do not act later this year or in early 2011 on passage of a new, multi-year highway and transit authorization bill, hundreds
If Congress and the president do not act later this year or in early 2011 on passage of a new, multi-year highway and transit authorization bill, hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs could be lost and states could face at a 50% cut in federal funding, American Road & Transportation Builders Association President and CEO Pete Ruane warned industry executives at the International Bridge Conference.
Despite positive impacts of the economic stimulus law, a fundamental challenge remains, Ruane said. ìAmerica needs a new comprehensive and integrated vision, and a robustly funded national transportation program. Many politicians in Washington are saying that we need to get more innovative and creative in passage of a new bill. Unfortunately, ëinnovativeí is usually a code word for ëwe can't raise user fees,í and simply reflects their lack of political will.î
Ruane observed the ìland of the lost, inertia, inaction and downright ineptitudeî on Capitol Hill as it relates to the transportation bill, noting that ìpartisanship and dysfunction are the rule, not the exception.î
ìObjective research, sadly, has not carried the day or spurred congressional action,î he said. ìWe are in limbo and face threats from many directions.î
Among those threats are the ongoing precarious financial condition of the Highway Trust Fund, the end of stimulus highway and transit funds in late 2010, a possibly divisive battle over investment levels among the various transportation modes, and efforts to pass a Senate climate-change bill that includes a ìde facto gas tax increaseî that could preempt and maybe doom the passage of a new reauthorization bill. He told the IBC participants that these threats and the continued delays would have negative impacts on the future health and stability of the bridge market.
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