Infrastructure Week lived up to its name! In addition to the events marking the occasion and furthering the conversation on emerging solutions, innovative approaches and best practices, President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of Transportation Foxx and Congress all spoke over the past few days on the need for investment.
On Wednesday, President Obama took his message to the Tappan Zee Bridge, a major thruway for New Yorkers, highlighting his plan to get projects moving faster while remaining on budget. Meanwhile, in Cleveland against the backdrop of a rail car repair shop, Vice President Biden shared a similar plea, citing the Infrastructure Report Card’s estimate that the U.S. needs to invest $3.6 trillion by 2020 to get our nation’s infrastructure GPA up to a B.
Secretary Foxx also warned of the perils of inaction regarding the Highway Trust Fund, saying “We cannot meet the needs of a growing country and a growing economy by simply maintaining our current level of effort.”
The remarks from the administration did not fall on deaf ears, as Chairman Boxer and Sen. Vitter released a bipartisan bill to authorize six years of highway and transit programs on Monday that passed out of the Environment & Public Works Committee on Thursday.
Could infrastructure be the new political buzzword? Or will congressional gridlock derail it? Hopefully the trend continues into action, as failure to act comes at a high cost of its own, including a loss of as many as 700,000 jobs. As The Baltimore Sun points out, a short-term bailout “defeats the purpose of the trust fund.” It is time for a reliable funding mechanism that will pave the way to a Highway Trust Fund equipped with 2014 dollars, rather than 1993 ones.
The Highway Trust Fund and transportation-based infrastructure, however, were not the only sectors getting attention during Infrastructure Week. The details of WRRDA were agreed upon and the bill will be sent to the President for his signature next week.
Secretary Foxx also honored the Champions of Change in Transportation, reminding us that improving infrastructure, fixing the Highway Trust Fund and passing legislation like WRRDA is ultimately about helping people. These 11 individuals each offer innovative solutions to improve transportation in their communities and exemplify the great work that can help improve citizens’ lives through transportation projects.
Hope you all had a great Infrastructure Week, too!