Barletta Discusses Importance of Long-Term Highway Bill in Transportation Hearing
Click here to watch a video of Barletta speaking during the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing.
WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) repeated his calls for a long-term transportation infrastructure bill, arguing that private industry and local governments need a reliable funding source to plan projects and hire workers. Barletta made that case yesterday during a hearing held by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit examining the implementation of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.
“As most of my colleagues know, I grew up working in the road construction business,” Barletta said. “That experience showed me how difficult it can be for state and local governments to move forward with projects when they are uncertain about future federal transportation spending. And that uncertainty trickles down to private industry – my family would not hire more workers or purchase more equipment without knowing what the future might hold.”
The hearing featured representatives of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, who agreed with Barletta that short-term transportation infrastructure funding impedes the ability of small businesses and local governments to plan and complete projects.
“From the transit agencies perspective, we do a very detailed, long-range financial plan – a 20-year financial plan that identifies all of our revenue and all of our expense,” Gary Thomas, President and Executive Director of Dallas Area Rapid Transit, said. “Our projects are very specific. We make sure that we know what we can build and when we can build them, and that we can operate and maintain them once we build them. Not having the certainty [of federal transportation funding] beyond 2020 prohibits us from that reliability of knowing what we can do in that 20 year plan. Long-range funding is certainly critical.”
Barletta has long made the case for a sustainable funding source for transportation infrastructure projects, arguing that he believes taxpayers will support a user fee to pay for improvements to roads and bridges as long as they know where the money will be spent. And he maintains that money spent on transportation infrastructure projects goes directly into local economies and helps to create jobs.
“We need to find a sustainable funding source for infrastructure,” Barletta said. “We can’t keep pulling these rabbits out of our hats in Washington. We need a sustainable revenue stream. I support a user fee as one way we can do that.”
Barletta was a member of the conference committee that worked to finalize the FAST Act, a five-year, $305 billion transportation infrastructure funding bill passed in December 2015. While Barletta applauded the legislation as a good step in the right direction, he expressed disappointment that the bill was a missed opportunity to develop serious reforms in transportation funding.