Click here to watch Chairman Barrasso’s remarks.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a hearing titled, “Addressing America’s Surface Transportation Infrastructure Needs.”
The hearing featured testimony from Carlos M. Braceras, P.E., president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and executive director of the Utah Department of Transportation; Robert Lanham, vice president of the Associated General Contractors of America; and James Corless, executive director of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments.
For more information on witness testimony click here.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“Today we will discuss the need to address and modernize our nation’s surface transportation infrastructure.
“This committee has historically taken the bipartisan lead on infrastructure issues in the Senate.
“2018 is a good example.
“It has been a banner year for moving infrastructure legislation forward.
“In March of this year, President Trump signed into law legislation from this committee to reauthorize and enhance EPA’s Brownfields program.
“This legislation is going to help clean up contaminated sites for reuse.
“It will spur much needed infrastructure development on abandoned industrial sites.
“In October, President Trump signed America’s Water Infrastructure Act.
“As the most significant water infrastructure bill passed in decades, America’s Water Infrastructure Act is going to grow the economy, cut Washington red tape, and keep communities safe.
“America’s Water Infrastructure Act will upgrade and maintain aging dams and irrigation systems, increase water storage, and deepen nationally significant ports.
“It authorizes funds to repair aging drinking water systems, so that communities across America have access to clean drinking water.
“It authorizes important projects that will create jobs and grow our economy.
“It will benefit Americans for years to come.
“I believe the bipartisan successes on water infrastructure and brownfields cleanup can be replicated for America’s surface transportation infrastructure as well.
“Our surface transportation infrastructure drives the health, well-being, and prosperity of the nation.
“We depend upon highways, roads, and bridges to move people and goods, to get to our jobs, and to visit our loved ones.
“Simply put, surface transportation infrastructure connects all of us.
“But for far too long, we have not prioritized the needs of these vital infrastructure systems.
“New funding is needed to keep pace with demands, and burdensome federal regulations have slowed efforts to spend money efficiently.
“The time has come to cut red tape and to make significant investments in our roads and bridges -- investments necessary to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent.
“In a hearing last year in this committee, Wyoming Department of Transportation Director Bill Panos stated in written testimony that: ‘Using the current predominately formula-based FAST Act approach to distribution would ensure both rural and urban states participate in the initiative. It would also help push the benefits of any new infrastructure initiative out to the public promptly.’
“Using the formula-based approach will expedite the delivery of future infrastructure spending.
“Existing formula funding systems allow flexibility for both rural and urban states to use federal money to its best advantage.
“What works in Los Angeles or Chicago may not work for smaller communities like Cody or Riverton, Wyoming.
“We also need to update the law to allow our states to build better, faster, cheaper, and smarter.
“When we make significant investments into our nation’s infrastructure, we need to be sure that this money is being used as effectively and efficiently as possible.
“By cutting Washington’s red tape, we can ensure that better roads and bridges can be delivered faster.
“As states, counties, and towns wait to obtain permits from Washington, costs for projects rise and time is wasted.
“It shouldn’t take a decade to permit a project that only takes months to build.
“We need to speed up project delivery.
“I believe it can be done without sacrificing environmental safeguards.
“We also should explore how new technology, both in how we build and how we drive, can reduce costs, an improve safety, and can increase the longevity of our roads and bridges.
“Better roads and bridges across America help all of us.
“Everyone benefits from safer highways, well-maintained roads, and resilient bridges.
“America prides itself on its ingenuity and commitment to provide infrastructure that meets the needs of its people.
“I know that my good friend, Senator Carper agrees that it’s up to our committee --working together as we did on water infrastructure --working with the administration --to move forward with legislation to improve our highways, our roads, and our bridges well into the future.
“We are a committee that gets things done.
“Let’s continue on that road and get a highway infrastructure bill passed next year.”