Barletta Pushes Infrastructure Investment in Transportation Hearing
Click here or on image for video of Rep. Barletta in House T&I Committee hearing
on transportation infrastructure spending.
WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today argued that long-term transportation infrastructure planning and spending spur widespread local economic growth and attract private investment in places where modes of transportation are easily accessible. Barletta made that case during a hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, under the title “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure.”
“Growing up in the road construction business, I learned that private industry needs long-term planning and dedicated funding sources in order to invest in our nation’s infrastructure,” Barletta said. “It’s simply a fact that no employer will make plans to hire more workers or purchase million-dollar pieces of equipment without long-term security in government contracts. And no state or local government, being a former mayor, can make long-term plans without certainty in federal transportation spending.”
The hearing featured representatives of private companies and organized labor, who agreed that federal infrastructure spending has lagged as a percentage of U.S. Gross Domestic Product.
“The population and the commerce of the United States have gone up at a far, far faster rate than the expansion of the interstate federal highway system, which is the backbone of our nation’s logistic system,” said Frederick W. Smith, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the FedEx Corporation. “You can’t expect national productivity and economic well-being to improve unless you address these infrastructure issues. In my mind, it’s just a matter of paying for it.”
Barletta said he felt taxpayers would be willing to pay user fees for transportation projects, as long as they knew where the money would be spent. And he maintained that the money spent would help the local economies wherever projects are located.
“Spending on infrastructure is not the same as putting money into another program, where you’re just providing services,” Barletta said. “When there’s a lot of infrastructure work, people will make good money. When they make good money, you know what they do? They spend it. They spend it right in our local economies, which helps everyone. Not just the construction workers, not just the construction companies, not just the manufacturers of equipment. It helps the waitresses and waiters and little restaurants and diners. It helps everywhere.”
Barletta said that where infrastructure improvements are made, private enterprise will follow, as accessibility to interstate modes of transportation makes expansion possible.
“Pennsylvania is home to over 120,000 miles of state and local highways, many of which cross through my district,” Barletta said. “I know of economic development projects that would happen if there was access to our transportation system.”
Barletta was a House negotiator on the five-year, $305 billion Highway Bill passed in December 2015. Though he applauded the legislation as a good step in the right direction, he did express disappointment that the bill was a missed opportunity to develop serious reforms in transportation funding.