Construction industry organizations applauded President Barack Obama’s proposed $50-billion, six-year surface transportation plan, which was laid out this week.
“The president clearly appreciates that the infrastructure-focused portions of the stimulus were effective in boosting employment and helping rebuild America’s aging infrastructure,” says Stephen E. Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America. “And while the most effective sequel to the stimulus is passing a fully-funded, six-year surface transportation bill, countless thousands of construction workers will have a better chance of retaining their jobs thanks to this proposal than they otherwise would once the stimulus runs its course.”
Sandherr says AGC hopes that the proposal “receives the bipartisan consideration and support investing in our country’s economic infrastructure ought to merit. After all, the American people are counting on both parties to begin tackling the nation’s $2.2 trillion infrastructure deficit.
Sandherr adds that AGC will continue to work in support of swift passage of the fuller, long-overdue, surface transportation bill.
Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, says the transportation plan is “exactly what our nation needs.”
“For too long the basics of America have been allowed to deteriorate, threatening our ability to move goods and people and to compete in the global economy,” says O’Sullivan. “While nations such as China invest upwards of 10% of their GDP in new superhighways, bullet trains and other critical infrastructure, the U.S. has fallen behind, investing about 2%.”
According to the White House, the transportation plan would build on the investments the administration has already made under the Recovery Act, and would reform the way America currently invests in transportation, “changing our focus to enhancing competition, innovation, performance, and real analysis that gets taxpayers the best bang for the buck, while moving away from the earmarks and formula debates of the past.”
Highlights of the plan include:
• Roads – Rebuild 150,000 mi of roads;
• Railways – Construct and maintain 4,000 mi of rail – enough to go coast-to-coast;
• Runways – Rehabilitate or reconstruct 150 mi of runway – while putting in place a NextGen system that will reduce travel time and delays
The White House says the plan includes the establishment of an Infrastructure Bank to “leverage federal dollars and focus on investments of national and regional significance that often fall through the cracks in the current siloed transportation programs.”
The plan would also combine with the reauthorization of a long-term surface transportation, which expired at the end of last year and the trust fund to finance them has fallen into insolvency.
“If we are to enjoy the benefits that come from a world-class transportation system, Congress must enact a long-term reauthorization that expands and reforms our infrastructure investments and returns the transportation trust fund to solvency,” says a White House statement. “To jumpstart job creation, this long-run policy front-loads – through a $50 billion up-front investment – a significant share of the new infrastructure resources. As with other long-run policies, the Administration is committed to working with Congress to fully pay for the plan.”