AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF STATE HIGHWAY AND TRANSPORTATION OFFICIALS
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has compiled a list of the top 10 distinct and pressing transportation issues that loom at the local, state, and federal levels as 2011 begins. Congressional enactment of a long-term surface transportation reauthorization measure tops the list.
“We are urging Congress to write a balanced bill this year that meets the needs of preservation and new capacity, meets the needs of rural and urban America, and meets the needs for highways as well as transit,” said John Horsley, AASHTO’s executive director. “If we get a bill passed with these elements, we have a shot of meeting the country’s needs.”
He said it is important to remember that for every dollar that Americans do not spend today to preserve highways, it will cost the nation $7 in rehabilitation costs five years from now.
“President Obama wants exports to lead our national economic recovery,” Horsley said. “But you can’t move goods competitively to markets without a solid aviation, water, and rail system. If we let those systems decline further, we won’t be able to sustain that export-led growth. Bottom line: it’s vital to the national economic recovery to have a world-class transportation system.”
Here’s a look at the top 10 transportation topics that AASHTO believes will be part of the national conversation in 2011:
1. Enacting a Long-Term Transportation Bill That Will Keep America Moving: In 2010, there was a lot of talk about the need for a new long-term transportation bill. But in the end, Congress opted for a short-term extension until March 4 of the existing law, which originally lapsed Sept. 30, 2009. Rep. John Mica, R-Florida and the new chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has said he would like a new bill ready for consideration in the spring. Short-term extensions can create difficulties for state departments of transportation that must juggle major, multi-year public-works projects such as reconstructing bridges or interchanges. In addition, these projects require that states have secure, long-term financing before any contracts can be signed. A multitude of associations, states, counties, cities, businesses, and highway users will continue to work to ensure that a balanced, long-term, and multi-year surface transportation reauthorization bill is adopted in 2011.
2. Paying for the Transportation System We Need: Although the need to pass a long-term bill is a significant priority for the country, the question often comes back to how we pay for it at the federal, state, and local levels. Many states are facing severe cutbacks in funding used to match the federal contribution, compounding the overall problem. Work is expected to continue in this Congress to adopt a series of sustainable funding sources for transportation infrastructure; identify state and federal responsibilities for the funding of transportation; and create innovative financing options such as infrastructure banks, public/private partnerships, or subsidized bonding programs.
About the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
“The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials is the voice for transportation and catalyst for organizational and technical excellence…AASHTO advocates transportation-related policies and provides technical services to support states in their efforts to efficiently and safely move people and goods.”