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Mixed Reactions to Obama’s New $300 Billion Transportation Bill

Posted by Joe Gentle on Thursday, February 27th, 2014

President Obama in St. PaulOn February 26, President Obama climbed the steps of St. Paul, MN’s Union Depot train station to announce his new vision for transportation funding. The bill includes a competition for $600 million in transportation grants, and a four-year surface transportation reauthorization to the tune of $300 billion.

Whitehouse.gov outlines the proposal’s three principal goals:

  • Launching competition for $600 million in TIGER competitive grants to fund transformative transportation infrastructure projects
  • Proposing an aggressive four-year plan to modernize our nation’s surface transportation infrastructure
  • Proposing a pro-growth, bipartisan approach to financing the President’s surface transportation plan

According to President Obama, “one of the fastest and best ways to create good jobs is by rebuilding America’s infrastructure — our roads, our bridges, our rails, our ports, our airports, our schools, our power grids. We’ve got a lot of work to do out there, and we’ve got to put folks to work.”

Stakeholders on both sides of the fence have been quick to form opinions, and the fate of the bill remains uncertain–though most agree that action is urgently needed. Selected reactions from the transportation community are excerpted below.

  • “President Obama’s proposed $302 billion transportation plan is an encouraging step forward in addressing the impending cliff our nation faces this year with the Highway Trust Fund.  When the Highway Trust Fund becomes insolvent later this year, road and bridge projects will cease, payments will stop, and the shockwaves throughout our economy will be significant.”
    -Randall S. Over, President, American Society of Civil Engineers
  • “I encourage the President and my Congressional colleagues to start looking at reality in terms of our transportation policy and in terms of providing the financial support to our national infrastructure system…The reality is that Congress must pass a transportation bill pretty darn soon.  In a matter of months, States, who have to work in a responsible fashion and who require a Federal commitment, will not be able to proceed because of Congressional inaction.”
    -Congressman John Mica (R-FL)
  • “The crisis facing the Highway Trust Fund and our national transportation infrastructure is very real. It is good news that the Administration and congressional leadership in both houses are looking seriously at strategies to invest in transportation and maintain the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund and the programs it supports.”
    -Bud Wright, Executive Director, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
  • “What is most disappointing about the president’s proposals is the failure to offer a credible source of funding to support these investments or even to assure adequate support for the authorized program levels of MAP-21…Neither the congressional leadership of either party, nor successive administrations from both parties have offered recommendations for sustainable revenues to support federal surface transportation programs. The result has been a Highway Trust Fund (HTF) that lacks sufficient resources to meet the program levels authorized by Congress.” 
    -Emil H. Frankel, Visiting Scholar, Bipartisan Policy Institute
  • “It is imperative that Congress and the President direct their energies at finding a Highway Trust Fund solution before the U.S. Department of Transportation is unable to reimburse states this summer for road and transit projects that have already been approved. Failure to act in a timely manner would deliver a crippling blow to the U.S. economy and the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of American workers.”
    -Pete Ruane, CEO, American Road & Transportation Builders Association

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