Transportation Advocates Urge Congress to Eliminate Barriers to Local and State Infrastructure Investments
WASHINGTON, DC – A diverse group of transportation organizations released a letter today urging congressional leadership and the conference committee on the authorization of the transportation bill to expand the flexibility and capacity of states and localities to address their transportation infrastructure investment challenges. In the letter, the group urges the conferees to seek all available opportunities to maximize state and local discretion to introduce tolling and user-charge systems.
Excerpts from the letter:
“As the Senate-House conference on the reauthorization of the surface transportation authorization bill begins, we hope that there will be significant attention directed towards enhancing the capacity of states and localities to attract new and expanded sources of investment capital. Unfortunately, while federal dollars for infrastructure are declining, the demand to fund projects to maintain, restore, and improve our current system is growing. We urge you to eliminate federal barriers to state and metropolitan flexibility and innovation, in raising investment capital and in generating revenues.”
“We are also are concerned that certain provisions incorporated into MAP-21 could discourage states from partnering with the private sector and from developing innovative tools to attract private capital to transportation investment, for fear of losing a percentage of federal funding. These provisions would also eliminate the option to use private activity bonds (PABs) to finance leased highway projects and would substantially lengthen depreciation timetables for long-term highway leases, making them less attractive to investors. While we respect the intent to protect the public interest that motivated these provisions, we are concerned that, as currently drafted, they do not respect the ability of states and localities to make such determinations of the public interest on behalf of their citizens and would make it more difficult to attract important new sources of investment capital for transportation infrastructure.”
“With the federal government apparently less able or less willing to provide funds to states and localities for surface transportation, we hope that the scope of the conference committee’s work will allow you to adopt a report that will expand the flexibility and capacity of states and localities to address their funding and investment challenges. Old obstacles should be dismantled, and no new barriers should be erected. If states and metropolitan regions are going to be asked to do more in transportation, and if more of the funding and investment responsibilities are to devolve to them, it is essential that this legislation remove the restrictions to their capacity to innovate. Such provisions in the final legislation can be central elements, in advancing innovation, progress, and global competitiveness.”
Signatories included the Reason Foundation, Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), Building America’s Future (BAF), former U.S. DOT Secretary Mary E. Peters, former Deputy Secretary of Transportation Mort Downey, former Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA), former Congressman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), key state Departments of Transportation, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA), American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), U.S. Tolling Coalition, Robert Puentes of the Brookings Institution, Transportation Transformation Group (T2), Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), Construction Management Association of America (CMAA), American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), and National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission (NSTIFC).
For the full letter and list of signatories, please visit http://www.bipartisanpolicy.org/library/national-transportation-policy-p....
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About Building America’s Future: Building America's Future (BAF) is a bipartisan coalition of elected officials dedicated to bringing about a new era of U.S. investment in infrastructure that enhances our nation's prosperity and quality of life. Founded by former Governor Edward Rendell of Pennsylvania, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, BAF boasts a politically diverse membership of state and local elected officials from across the nation. For more information, please visit our website: http://www.BAFuture.org.
About the Bipartisan Policy Center: Founded in 2007 by former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) is a non-profit organization that drives principled solutions through rigorous analysis, reasoned negotiation, and respectful dialogue. With projects in multiple issue areas, BPC combines politically-balanced policymaking with strong, proactive advocacy and outreach. For more information, please visit our website: http://www.bipartisanpolicy.org.
About the Reason Foundation: Reason Foundation is a nonprofit think tank dedicated to advancing free minds and free markets. Reason Foundation produces respected public policy research on a variety of issues and publishes the critically acclaimed Reason magazine and its website, www.Reason.com. For more information, please visit http://www.Reason.org.
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U.S. Port volume is expected to double by 2020; Freight tonnage is expected to increase 88% by 2035; and, passenger miles to increase by 80% in 30 years.