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The GROW AMERICA Act: Response from the Infra Community

Posted by Joe Gentle on Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

On Friday, May 2, the Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation released the GROW AMERICA Act, a $300-billion transportation bill aiming to provide comprehensive solutions to our nation’s transportation woes. According to the GROW AMERICA fact sheet:

The…GROW AMERICA Act, is a $302 billion, four year transportation reauthorization proposal that provides increased and stable funding for our Nation’s highways, bridges, transit, and rail systems. The Administration’s proposal is funded by supplementing current revenues with $150 billion in one-time transition revenue from pro-growth business tax reform.

Despite the bill’s cumbersome acronym (Generating Renewal, Opportunity, and Work with Accelerated Mobility, Efficiency, and Rebuilding of Infrastructure and Communities throughout America) the bill promises to resolve a slew of nagging transportation problems, from environmental impact to financing.

Here are a few of the responses from stakeholders in the infrastructure community:

“The GROW AMERICA Act will provide rail with a predictable, dedicated funding source and the tools needed to drive the next generation of rail safety and development,” said Joseph C. Szabo, Federal Railroad Administrator.  “It lays out a comprehensive strategy to eliminate risk on railroads through data-driven enforcement, proactive safety programs that identify risk in advance, and strong capital investment.  The safety gains identified in the bill, coupled with new investments in a higher performance rail network will move rail into the 21st Century.” 
-Joseph C. Szabo, Federal Railroad Administrator 

“Congress must pass a long-term surface transportation bill…While Secretary Foxx’s proposal is not perfect, it launches a necessary discussion between the Obama Administration and Congress on the need to find a long-term, bipartisan solution to address the growing infrastructure crisis in our country. Among my initial concerns is the inclusion of Amtrak and the TIGER grant program into the Highway Trust Fund that will further diminish scarce transportation dollars without paying a single cent into the program.
-Senator James N. Inhofe (R-CA)

“Local transportation systems are underwater from massive revenue shortfalls.  Now is not the time to cut more from these cash-strapped budgets.  Now is the time to invest and grow our economy.  This is particularly important for communities of color who tend to be the most disconnected from public transit while also the most likely to rely on it to get to opportunities like jobs.”
-Simran Noor, Coordinator of Advocacy at the Center for Social Inclusion

“NACTO applauds President Obama and Secretary Foxx for putting forward a strong plan for the federal transportation program through 2018, the GROW AMERICA bill. We appreciate the increased funding and the recognition of locally-based innovation through an expansion of the discretionary program suite. The President’s commitment to transit is particularly welcome in the coming debate over reauthorization of MAP-21, as the Highway Trust Fund edges into the red.
-Linda Bailey, Executive Director of the National Association of City Transportation Officials

“Relying more on tolls and less on general revenues means those who benefit from good transportation pay directly for it, like any other service,” said Tax Foundation Vice President of State and Legal Projects…The option to fund transportation with tolls would also reduce pressure to boost sales taxes, income taxes, and business taxes, including the Administration’s problematic proposed changes to international business taxation.”
-Joseph Henchman, Vice President of State and Legal Project, Tax Foundation

“These additional commitments will expand transportation options, enhance the quality of life, and stimulate new jobs and economic development for our people and businesses. These resources are especially welcome and necessary as mayors and other local leaders work to absorb another 85 million Americans in our metropolitan areas over the next 30 years. We know that to be successful, we must expand investment in our local transportation infrastructures and services.”
-Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Chair of The U.S. Conference of Mayors Transportation Committee

Learn more about the GROW AMERICA Act from this episode of AASHTO Transportation TV:

 

In this Transportation TV, News Update we break down the Obama administration’s four year, surface transportation reauthorization proposal. The Grow America Act would provide $302 billion for federal highway and transit programs. T-TV highlights the Administration’s investment priorities. Also in the newscast, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Panel on Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) invited representatives from Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Florida to discuss their transportation agency’s P3s programs. Excerpts from their testimony are included in this News Update.
-aashtovideo on YouTube

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