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Senators Lautenberg, Rockefeller, introduce infrastructure funding bill

Sen. Frank Lautenberg said the proposed infrastructure fund would get people back to work, while spurring economic development and productivity.

The Trucker News Services

2/26/2013

WASHINGTON — Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller, and Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, chairman of the Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security Subcommittee, Tuesday introduced legislation that they said would leverage federal investment to rebuild and expand transportation infrastructure and create American jobs.

The American Infrastructure Investment Fund Act of 2013 would establish a $5 billion fund that would incentivize private, state and regional investments in transportation projects around the country by providing eligible products with financial assistance, the senators said.

“All options need to be on the table to rebuild and expand our rail systems, ports, highways, and airports,” said Rockefeller, D-W.Va.  “Right now, millions of dollars in private capital are parked on the sidelines. We need to leverage federal dollars through the infrastructure fund our bill creates to encourage private investment and fully meet our infrastructure needs.  A strong transportation system promotes economic success and creates American jobs.  I know several other senators are interested in this issue, and I have every intention of working with my colleagues as we move forward to develop a robust approach to maximizing the return on our public and private investments.”

“Investing in our nation's roads, rails and runways will get people back to work, while spurring economic development and productivity.  This bill would establish a creative new way to leverage federal funding and increase investment in projects that will expand rail capacity, like the Gateway Tunnel, and projects that will modernize our ports and other infrastructure to meet the growing demands of the 21st Century,” said Lautenberg, D-N.J. “The  national Infrastructure Investment Fund created in this bill would supplement federal dollars with private investment to prioritize the large-scale transportation projects that will help our country and economy thrive.   If we want to leave our children and grandchildren a better country, we must make these smart investments on their behalf now.”

A spokesman for the committee noted that transportation infrastructure is an essential part of the U.S. economy, saying that every day, Americans rely on the nation’s infrastructure to commute safely to work, visit family and friends and travel freely around the country.

Businesses depend on a well-functioning transportation system to manage their supply chains and move their goods and services to market, the spokesman said, adding that a well-maintained, efficient transportation system is essential to the economic competitiveness of the U.S. 

In announcing the proposal, a committee news release noted that investment into transportation infrastructure has lagged in recent decades and America has developed an infrastructure investment backlog.

The American Infrastructure Investment Fund Act of 2013 would:

• Establish within the Department of Transportation (DOT) a fund designed to leverage federal dollars to incentivize private investment in transportation projects that maintain American economic competitiveness, which would be authorized at $5 billion for fiscal years 2014 and 2015.

• Use a variety of tools, such as loans and loan guarantees, to provide financial assistance to eligible projects that would be evaluated in an objective and transparent manner to encourage private, state, regional, and local entities to make capital investments into critical projects.

• Define eligible types of projects including rail lines, marine ports, pipelines, airports, highways, bridges, public transportation systems, and other transportation-related projects. The fund would be designed to allow it to broaden its investment portfolio in the future into other infrastructure projects, including telecommunications, energy, and water projects, and

• Authorize a multimodal National Infrastructure Investment Grant program within DOT at $600 million for fiscal years 2014 and 2015, which would provide funds to build new or improve existing transportation infrastructure.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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