On Thursday, former Pennsylvania governor and current Building America’s Future (BAF) Co-Chair Ed Rendell testified before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation that the U.S. needs increased and strategic federal investment to address deteriorating roads, bridges, ports and rail systems.
Rendell, testifying on behalf of Building America’s Future, spoke to the subcommittee about the dire situation facing our nation’s surface and marine transportation systems, which, if not addressed, threaten the economic competitiveness of the U.S. Rendell’s testimony pointed to the underinvestment in rail, roads, ports and aviation infrastructure, which negatively affects commerce, and continuously frustrates travelers and commuters. For these reasons, Rendell strongly urged lawmakers in Congress to stop putting off critical investments and look toward a comprehensive plan that will ensure a secure funding future for years to come.
“All of these deficiencies have made our nation’s transportation network less reliable and efficient. And, this means higher costs for businesses and consumers,” Rendell said. “Other sectors of our economy understand this and are eager for action.”
Rendell noted the actions being taken by governors and mayors to address their own transportation funding challenges but emphasized that state and local funding is not a substitute for sufficient investment from the federal government.
“Without an overriding national vision and network, America’s transportation infrastructure would resemble a patchwork of disconnected roads and rails; our aviation system would be untenable; goods movement would be greatly hindered,” Rendell said. “And all of this would cost businesses and consumers billions of dollars.”
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Consequently, Building America’s Future recommended several additional actions to the subcommittee, including:
- Creating a commission charged with producing a 10-year critical infrastructure plan — covering transportation, water, energy and broadband — that makes significant new investments. The Congressional Budget Office has concluded that an annual investment of $185 billion would be economically justified.
- Passing a long-term transportation bill.
- Identifying a long-term and sustainable source of revenue for the Highway Trust Fund. BAF supports increasing the gas tax by 10 cents and indexing it to inflation.
- Further increasing the authorization for TIFIA and raising or lifting the cap on Private Activity Bonds.
- Eliminating the federal restrictions on tolling interstates.
- Establishing a National Infrastructure Bank.
- Creating a new type of municipal bond called Qualified Public Infrastructure Bonds as proposed by President Obama earlier this month.
- Making the TIGER program permanent.
For more information on the hearing, click here.