(Remarks as prepared for delivery)
This is the first in a series of hearings to spotlight important areas of focus in the process of authorizing surface transportation programs. Today’s hearing will examine the ways transportation investment creates and preserves jobs and increases America’s economic competitiveness.
We know transportation infrastructure investment is a proven jobs creator. According to the Department of Transportation (DOT) every $1 billion in Federal money for transportation that is matched by state and local funds supports approximately 34,700 jobs.
According to a recent report by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), more than 280,000 direct jobs have been created or sustained at projects across the country as a result of the highway and transit funding in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
On February 19, Transportation Secretary LaHood and I toured a facility in Los Angeles where workers are providing preventive maintenance service to city buses through LA Metro’s Bus Mid-Life Program – replacing engines and fuel cylinders, refurbishing interiors and wheelchair lifts, and repainting older buses to improve their safety, performance, and reliability. A federal investment of $47 million under ARRA is giving these buses a new lease on life – and it is keeping 97 workers on the job.
These workers and their families – and thousands like them across the country -- are the real beneficiaries of federal investments that are putting Americans back to work, strengthening our economy, and rebuilding the infrastructure that keeps our country moving.
Transportation investments not only create and sustain jobs in the short term, they help us with economic recovery. They also provide benefits to American families and businesses every day – including shortened travel and commuting times, increased productivity, and improved safety. Infrastructure investments also enhance the productivity of businesses and individuals by reducing disruptions that waste money, time, and fuel and undermine our competitiveness.
In coming weeks we will be considering many important aspects of the surface transportation authorization, including , among other topics, federal, state and local partnerships to accelerate transportation benefits, mobility and congestion in urban and rural America, and transportation’s impact on the environment.
The next highway, transit and highway safety authorization provides an opportunity to take a fresh look at these programs and make the changes necessary to ensure our transportation system will meet America’s needs in the coming years. At the end of the day it's a matter of setting the right priorities and crafting innovative and effective means to address them.
As Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, job creation is my top priority. I am grateful to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their interest in moving forward together on a transformational transportation bill that makes the investments necessary to ensure our long term prosperity.