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Six-year US transportation bill now with Congress

US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx yesterday (March 30, 2015) submitted the updated GROW AMERICA Act to Congress. After weeks of promoting and refining the bill, it is now at the start of its official approval process. It has been updated from the original Act with a proposal for six years of transportation funding. Over the past year, Secretary Foxx has visited more than 100 communities and heard one common story about crumbling infrastructure and dwindling resources to fix it with. Secretary Foxx’s solution to this problem is a long-term transportation bill that provides funding growth and certainty.

The GROW AMERICA Act reflects President Obama’s vision for a six-year, US$478 billion transportation reauthorization bill that invests in modernizing America’s infrastructure. As lawmakers try to fund transportation beyond May 31, GROW AMERICA provides members of the House and Senate with the option of increasing investment in surface transportation by 45%, and repairing and modernizing roads, bridges, railroads and transit systems. 

“All over the country, I hear the same account: the need to repair and expand our surface transportation system has never been greater, and yet federal transportation funding has never been in such short supply,” says Foxx. “Our proposal provides a level of funding and also funding certainty that our partners need and deserve. This is an opportunity to break away from 10 years of flat funding, not to mention these past six years in which Congress has funded transportation by passing 32 short-term measures.”

A recent study by the Department, Beyond Traffic, confirmed that America’s infrastructure is failing. Drivers spend more than 40 hours annually stuck in traffic. Sixty-five percent of the roads they drive on are in less than good condition; one out of four bridges they cross needs to be replaced; and public transit faces an US$86 billion repair backlog. The report also revealed that, over the next 30 years, Americans will ask more of our transportation system than ever before. The United States’ population will grow by 70 million; freight traffic will increase by 45%. But rather than doing more, funding uncertainty has forced many states to do less. Tennessee, Arkansas, Delaware, and Wyoming have delayed more than a billion dollars in projects. Georgia, alone, has set aside US$715 million in projects, while Mississippi has shifted its transportation dollars only to smaller maintenance efforts. As it stands, total investment in our roads, bridges, and transit systems is falling well below the level that is needed to keep them in good condition.

Foxx hopes the GROW AMERICA Act will chart a new course, increasing investment in all forms of transportation, which will restore the ability of states and local governments to plan for both needed repairs and efforts that increase capacity to meet future demand. “It is clear to me that transportation is still a bipartisan issue, and I am really encouraged to see members of both parties working to get something done,” says Foxx. “During these next two months, though, all of us who work in Washington need to be relentless in trying to get to ‘yes’ on a bill that is truly transformative and that brings the country together. And frankly, governors and state officials as well as mayors and local officials all over the country need to continue being relentless, too, by continuing to raise their voices in support of a transportation bill that meets both their immediate and long-term needs.”

For a video of Anthony Foxx's GROW AMERICA Bus Tour, click here

 

March 31, 2015

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