With federal surface transportation funding set to expire on May 31, thousands of stakeholders will rally together for Infrastructure Week to urge Congress to say “no” to more short-term measures and “yes” to a long-term funding solution.
In support of the third annual Infrastructure Week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx participated in kickoff events in Washington, D.C. yesterday and will then head out to meet with state and local leaders, business leaders, and academics in Tennessee, California and Iowa.
“Our nation’s economy and the way we live both depend on having strong infrastructure,” Foxx said. “But the truth is that our current levels of investment are falling short of what is needed just to keep our existing system safe and in good condition. To make matters worse, over the past six years, Congress has passed 32 short-term measures that have stripped away the ability of state and local governments to complete big projects.”
Foxx also sent letters to State Transportation leaders to notify them that all federal participation in highway transportation infrastructure construction will stop after May 31 if the current federal funding authorization is allowed to expire. Without authority to continue funding agency operations, states will not be reimbursed for construction costs or receive technical support and will have to shoulder the burden themselves.
Throughout the week, Foxx will highlight an alternative to that funding shortage, which is the Obama Administration’s GROW AMERICA Act, a surface transportation bill that would provide six years of funding certainty and grow overall investment by 45%. The $478 billion proposal would increase funding in our roads, highways and transit systems, and for the first time would provide dedicated funding for passenger rail, rail safety and a national freight program.
Today, Foxx will be in Tennessee, a state that has a $6 billion backlog in highway projects, according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation. He will visit two projects that would improve safety for drivers and reduce traffic congestion, but both are delayed due to inadequate federal funding.
On Wednesday, Foxx will visit Delphi Labs in California’s Silicon Valley to announce new connected automation safety initiatives. This visit will build on the national conversation he launched earlier this year with the release of Beyond Traffic, a report that examines how new technologies and public policy will shape U.S. transportation systems to enable new safety, mobility, growth and economic benefits for our future.
The next day he will travel to Los Angeles to join Mayor Garcetti at the construction site of the soon-to-be-finished Division 13 Bus Maintenance and Operations Facility. The project was funded by the Federal Transit Administration and demonstrates the potential of increased transit investment to create jobs and greener infrastructure.
Foxx’s Infrastructure Week tour will conclude Friday, May 15, in Des Moines, Iowa, with a visit to the Southeast Connector Project, which is a crucial element in a series of infrastructure enhancements that will revitalize industrial areas, create jobs, and improve road safety.
“When you have had 32-short term measures in six years, any funding bill put forward that is actually big enough to meet the country’s challenges will be labeled by some as unrealistic,” Foxx said. “But I also think it is unrealistic to think that if we continue underinvesting in infrastructure that we will be able to meet the needs of 70 million more people in 30 years. We are in a big ditch, and we have to take some bold steps forward and solve it with a big solution.”