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 on “The Economic Benefits of Highway Infrastructure Investment and Accelerated Project Delivery.”
The hearing featured testimony from Patrick McKenna, vice president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials; Steven Demetriou, chairman and chief executive officer of Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. and Member of Business Roundtable Infrastructure Committee; and Michael Replogle, deputy commissioner for policy of the New York City Department of Transportation.
For more information on witness testimony click here.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“Today we will discuss the economic benefits of highway infrastructure, and ways we can accelerate project delivery.
“It is no secret that our economy relies heavily on the well-being of our nation’s roads and bridges.
”In 2015, the U.S. transportation system moved a daily average of about 49 million tons of freight that was worth more than $52 billion.
“Annually, that’s around 18 billion tons of freight valued at over $19 trillion.
“And these numbers are only going up.
According to the Department of Transportation, by 2045, our aging roads and bridges will carry an additional 4 billion tons of freight every year.
“Our nation’s highways must keep pace.
“The authorization of federal highway funding will expire in September of next year.
“And the Congressional Budget Office projects that the Highway Trust Fund will become insolvent sometime in 2021.
“It is essential that Congress invests in our infrastructure and specifically our surface transportation.
“That is why we must pass a multi-year reauthorization of highway funding bill that is on time and fiscally responsible.
“If Congress fails to act, states and local governments will not have the funding certainty they need to plan and deliver vital infrastructure projects for the American people.
“Our highways, our roads, and our bridges, would struggle to keep pace with our growing economy.
“Last November, we kicked off the process with a hearing to gather stakeholder input.
“In January, we held a hearing to consider the nomination of Nicole Nason to be administrator of the Federal Highway Administration.
“One week later, we favorably reported her nomination out of committee.
“The Federal Highway Administration will need a strong Administrator to work with Congress on the development and implementation of highway infrastructure legislation.
“It has been now over a month since we reported her from this committee.
“As with so many of the President Trump’s nominees, the process is taking too long.
“We need Ms. Nason confirmed and in office.
“Last month, Ranking Member Carper and I began asking Senate offices for their priorities for a highway infrastructure bill.
“As this bipartisan process continues, we must find ways to increase the effectiveness of federal investment, so communities can feel the economic benefits faster.
“Maintaining the federal highway program’s current approach of distributing funds to the states by formula is key.
“Using the formula-based approach expedites the delivery of infrastructure spending.
“It is an approach that works and should be continued.
“Another way to make federal dollars more effective is to speed up project delivery, which I believe can be done without sacrificing environmental safeguards.
“As states and towns wait to get permits and approvals from Washington, valuable time is wasted and costs for projects go up.
“It shouldn’t take years to permits projects that take only months to complete.
“In order to truly benefit the economy, highway infrastructure legislation must address the needs of rural America, as well as urban America.
“Rural roads are vital to bringing raw materials and products from the heartland to the coasts.
“We all buy and use goods that are transported on our nation’s highways through rural states and communities.
“Federal highways - like I-80 - run coast to coast, bringing these goods and services across America.
“This includes the stretch of I-80 that runs through my home state of Wyoming.
“We must maintain and improve the highways that crisscross our rural states to keep vital arteries of national commerce open.
“Our transportation infrastructure provides a firm foundation for our economy.
“As we will hear today, better highways, roads and bridges across America strengthens that foundation.
“I look forward to working together in a bipartisan way to pass a highway infrastructure bill that will deliver real economic benefits for the American people.”