By: U.S. Senators John Barrasso and Tom Carper
November 20, 2019
No matter where you live in America, people agree that our roads and bridges are long overdue for an upgrade.
Our country’s infrastructure needs are significant. Nearly 200,000 miles of major highways are in need of repairs, repaving or rebuilds. More than 47,000 bridges are in poor condition. Whether you live in a blue state or a red state, most Americans would agree that addressing these needs should be one of our nation’s top priorities.
It’s time for Congress to pass significant, bipartisan surface transportation infrastructure legislation. As chairman and ranking member of the Senate committee that’s responsible for our roads and bridges, we are committed to getting it done.
In July, we introduced America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act. Our legislation would give states the funds, flexibility and freedom to build safer and long-lasting bridges and highways. Modern highway systems power our economy, connect communities and improve quality of life.
When enacted, America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act will be the most substantial highway bill in history. It makes a $287 billion investment in our roads. The overwhelming majority of those funds will automatically go to state, tribal and local governments, allowing local leaders to determine which projects are top priorities.
Our bill also incorporates key elements of the president’s “One Federal Decision” policy — without forgoing important environmental protections. It cuts red tape so that highway projects are completed faster, cheaper and smarter.
Our legislation improves road safety by increasing funding to the successful Highway Safety Improvement Program.
To update aging bridges, the bill establishes a competitive grant program to address the backlog of bridges in poor condition. It also supports state-led initiatives to reduce the number of pedestrian deaths and wildlife collisions.
A large part of improving road safety is making sure America has durable highways and bridges that last. From rockslides in Wyoming to hurricanes and Nor’easters on the Delaware coast, we need roads that can withstand natural disasters and the worsening impacts of our changing climate. America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act invests $5.5 billion in a new program dedicated to enhancing infrastructure resiliency.
Our bill includes the first climate change title of its kind, providing flexible resources to help states reduce emissions. States could receive these funds to help mitigate traffic congestion in urban areas or to develop plans to reduce transportation-related emissions.
Our legislation is historic and substantial — and we believe it must be paid for. We agree that drivers of every kind of vehicle should contribute to maintain our roads and bridges.
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works approved America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act by a vote of 21 to zero. Senators from both parties agree that our roads and bridges can’t wait any longer.
A comprehensive surface transportation bill must also address our rail, transit and highway safety policies. This fall, we are working with Senate leaders and the committees responsible for those titles so that we can pass the comprehensive transportation legislation out of the Senate.
Our highways and transportation infrastructure are critical to our country’s success. They are vital arteries of commerce, connecting rural areas to major cities. It’s time to make a significant investment in them.
Every American benefits from better roads and bridges. Passing America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act will deliver those benefits.
• John Barrasso, M.D., is a Republican senator from Wyoming and Tom Carper is a Democratic senator from Delaware. Respectively, they are chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.