Hearing on MAP-21 Reauthorization: State and Local Perspectives on Transportation Priorities and Funding
March 27, 2014
(Remarks as prepared for delivery)
Today's hearing will provide the EPW Committee the opportunity to hear from state and local officials and transportation stakeholders about the importance of federal transportation funding and their priorities for the reauthorization of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).
Today's panel truly represents a cross-section of the country. As transportation leaders at the state and local level, they know what is at stake without sustainable funding and a sound Highway Trust Fund. I am a former county supervisor, and know how tough that job is and how important maintaining safe and efficient transportation systems are to local communities.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's recently released 2013 Conditions and Performance Report, about 49 percent of highway miles traveled are on roads that are in less than "good" condition, and 18 percent are on roads in less than "acceptable" condition. In addition, over 21 percent of the nation's bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Of these, over 70,000 bridges are structurally deficient.
These statistics show that there is a lot of work to be done to maintain our global competitiveness, and we must continue to invest in our transportation infrastructure - not just for now but for future generations.
However, in order to make needed investments in our transportation infrastructure, Congress must ensure the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund. Make no mistake - we are running out of time for action. Last month, this Committee held a hearing on what the devastating impacts would be of letting the Highway Trust Fund run out of funding. Here are the sobering facts: CBO and U.S. DOT estimate that the Highway Trust Fund may run out of funds as early as September 2014, which would create cash flow problems for states during the critical summer construction season.
Already states are cutting back on the construction projects they planned to go forward with this spring, and this trend will only continue to get worse as we get closer to insolvency.
MAP-21 was a bipartisan bill that included transformational reforms to improve flexibility, reduce costs, and require accountability for our surface transportation programs. These reforms, many of which are still in the rulemaking process, will enhance federal transportation programs and help to build public trust in seeing how tax dollars are spent.
We will continue to track the implementation of these reforms at the Department of Transportation and welcome the opportunity to hear from states, counties, parishes, and cities on how these reforms are working and what tweaks and improvements should be considered as we move forward.
My goal, along with Senator Vitter, is to move swiftly this spring to pass a long-term reauthorization bill in the EPW Committee that provides six years of funding certainty.
I have begun discussions with Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Hatch on funding this bill and addressing the shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund. They have that responsibility, and I will continue to work closely with the other Senate committees of jurisdiction to pass legislation with the same bipartisan support that we experienced with MAP-21.