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Vitter Summary Statement for Hearing on MAP-21 Reauthorization
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works “MAP-21 Reauthorization: State and Local Perspectives on Transportation Priorities and Funding”
March 27, 2014

Thank you Chairman Boxer for holding today's hearing. Getting a local and state perspective on our transportation infrastructure is critical to not only understand the state of our infrastructure and the effectiveness of current policies but also to provide the federal government with some much needed guidance.

Thank you to our witnesses for appearing before us today. You have all traveled a long way to be here and by doing so you have showed how important surface transportation infrastructure is to your communities, parishes and states.

Collectively you bring a diverse set of perspectives but a common goal of developing a first-class comprehensive transportation network. I look forward to working with you in examining our upcoming challenges and building policies that work towards this common goal.

I especially want to thank Bill Fontenot for making the trip from Louisiana to appear before us today. Mr. Fontenot is the St. Landry Parish President. Prior to being elected as parish president in 2011, he worked as an engineer at the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development for 38 years in the Highways Department, eighteen of which he severed as one of nine regional district administrators.

Our surface transportation infrastructure consists of several categories or types of roads that come together to create a network. In order to have a healthy and efficient network that can move people and goods, all the pieces of that network need to be cohesive and strong.

• This means investing in the critical rural roads and bridges that we rely on to safely get our kids to school and move this country's vast resources including our agricultural and energy resources to market.

• This means investing in the Interstate system to improve the lanes of commerce and improve our connectivity.
• And it means investing in the vital corridors that link the two.

Such a network is a fundamental component of our nation's economy and our quality of life. A first-class infrastructure in all regions of the country is essential to connect people and communities, and is a critical building block in developing, sustaining, and growing an economy.

However, we can't work toward that cohesive network if we don't have a reliable Highway Trust Fund and prioritize proper investment in streamlined, flexible programs.

Recent actions represent a departure from the intent of the Highway Trust Fund and have prolonged economic uncertainty not only in the direct investment of our infrastructure but also the type of long-term investment that drives economic development at home and makes us more competitive abroad.

If we are going to be successful at putting such a structure back on a sustainable course and deliver on the economic promise of sound infrastructure investment, we must restore trust back in the Highway Trust Fund.

This means that the Trust Fund needs to be sustainable and transparent.

We need to be able to show where taxpayer's dollars are going and where future investment may be utilized on a project by project level. And we must continue to reduce the cost, burden and impact of the red-tape that comes along with federal funds.

Flexible and accessible apportionment programs will also work to restore trust in the Trust Fund. While other investment tools can play an important role, only such apportionment programs have the ability to:

• Improve our transportation infrastructure across-the-board
• Provide a steady revenue stream to mitigate uncertainty
• Provide a base for innovative financing structures
• Empower local and state decision making
• Keep the federal government out of the business of picking winners and losers

We must resist the urge to move back towards small, rigid programs that lack a comprehensive vision and are tailored to only meet the needs of a few states or specific regions.

Again, I thank the chair and the witnesses for their hard work. I look forward to hearing your testimony and working together to invest in our network and get our nation's infrastructure back on track.

 

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