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ATA: Obama’s infrastructure proposal needs ‘concrete’ funding

Graves said “empty promises and rhetoric” about the importance of repairing roads and bridges as a way to put Americans back to work are not what the nation needs.

The Trucker News Services

1/25/2012

ARLINGTON, Va. – Following President Obama’s State of the Union address, ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said the administration and Congress need to focus on finding real money.

“As users of America’s highways, ATA was heartened to hear President Obama once again highlight the need to do something — anything — about our crumbling infrastructure,” Graves said. “However, it was with little surprise that the president once again failed to commit to putting real, concrete sources of funding behind that rhetoric.

Graves said “empty promises and rhetoric” about the importance of repairing roads and bridges as a way to put Americans back to work are not what the nation needs.

“What the country needs is money — money from real sources, not promises of private investment or redirected savings,” Graves said. “While promises of speeding the construction process will help in the short term, in the long term, it still boils down to funding.

Noting the industry’s recovery from “the Great Recession,” Graves added that trucking has just wrapped up its most successful year in a decade.

“We expect with continued improvement in manufacturing and growth in international trade that we will be called on to haul more goods and drive more miles than ever,” Graves said. “In order to do this efficiently and safely, we need the administration and Congress to come together on a well-funded multiyear highway bill that makes smart investments in roads and bridges with real dollars. As the president said, ‘There’s never been a better time to build.’”

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials commended Obama for using the address to reiterate his unrelenting support for greater investment in the highways, bridges, mass transit, and rail systems that support our economy and quality of life, but also called for an end to simply extending the highway bill.

"President Obama is once again shining the national spotlight on this most critical of issues,” John Horsley, AASHTO executive director, said. “The president’s words and recent actions by congressional leadership on both sides of the aisle give transportation proponents optimism that an agreement can be reached on a multiyear surface transportation reauthorization bill in the near future. Major transportation projects take years of planning, design, construction, and investment. State departments of transportation need the certainty and stability that a multiyear authorization bill brings. Passing one short-term extension after the other is not the answer.”

Congress has extended the 2005 highway and transit authorization law known as "SAFETEA-LU," eight times since it originally expired Sept. 30, 2009. The current extension will expire March 31.

The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee both applauded and criticize the president.

“America needs to rebuild its infrastructure but I do not support what appears to be the President’s plan to finance that effort by downsizing the military,” Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said. “Next week Republicans will introduce a long-stalled major transportation measure – killed two years ago by the President – that will be financed in part by increased American energy production, creating jobs and lowering energy costs.”

Kevin Jones of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at kevinj@thetrucker.com.

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