HBO comedy program, new rail legislation bring hope for infrastructure renewal


When our nation’s infrastructure woes become the source of comedic entertainment on a major cable channel—it underscores that the problem must be addressed.  Fortunately, action on Capitol Hill pressing for funding legislation and transportation reform is already underway.

It is not news that our nation’s roads, bridges and transit need maintenance, but when popular television shows bring these issues to light, they become harder to ignore. John Oliver’s HBO episode (containing adult content) featuring our nations “roads, bridges, dams … basically anything that can be destroyed in an action movie,” showcases deteriorating infrastructure conditions in a comedic yet effective manner.  He highlights the widespread need for all areas of America’s infrastructure to be addressed, reminding us of daily water main breaks, cracks in bridge support beams and other evidences of needed infrastructure repair.

Secretary Foxx took center stage on the issue this week, speaking to the Senate Commerce Committee and promoting the Obama Administration’s funding plan for a six-year, $478 billion surface transportation bill which would be funded through a new tax on overseas corporate earnings.

In addition to surface transportation, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta urged lawmakers to create stable, long-term funding and “operational flexibility” in reauthorizing legislation set to be debated in Congress this year. Huerta underscored the Obama Administration’s support for raising passenger facility charges (PFCs) to $8.00 per leg, per flight which is in line with ASCE’s policy recommendation. This funding would go towards airport modernization and traveler experience upgrades.

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed by an overwhelming margin (316-101), bipartisan legislation that would reauthorize national passenger rail programs for a four-year period. The bill seeks to reform Amtrak by reducing costs, creating greater accountability and transparency, leveraging private sector resources, and accelerating rail project delivery.  “The Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act will vastly improve commuter and passenger rail systems across the country, helping save American families’ time and money in transportation costs,” said Jeff Denham, chairman of the hazardous materials subcommittee of the transportation and infrastructure committee.

While funding legislation for aviation and Amtrak is encouraging, it is still critical that Congress work quickly to pass legislation to provide a sustainable, long-term funding solution to #FixTheTrustFund.

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