By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, November 4 U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R from Montgomery) issued a statement discussing the six year transportation funding bill. Rep Roby discussed the importance of giving long-term certainty to state and local governments for road planning.
Rep. Roby said that, “Roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure make up the backbone of commerce.” “All you have to do is go talk to mayors or city council members or county commissioners to understand how important a long term bill is to providing the type of certainty they need to plan.”
Congresswoman Roby said, “This highway bill is so important because it’s a six-year bill; it’s a long-term approach to provide certainty. Since I’ve been in Congress, we have only voted for short term extensions.”
Roby said that she will reserve judgement until the bill’s language is final, but was pleased at the process by which the bill has come to the floor. Instead of being written and negotiated by a few top leaders like the recent budget deal, the highway bill was developed in committee and came to the floor via an open process that allowed for debate on hundreds of amendments.
Rep Roby said, “It’s important for the Congress to do its job and that is to fund federal infrastructure. This is our responsibility. I believe because of the open process that has been put in place – more than 100 amendments made in order – that, when we get to the final product, it will be something that conservative Republicans can vote for.”
The Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015 authorizes $325 billion to fund roads, bridges and other infrastructure needs, while deferring much of the planning and decision making to state and local governments. The bill streamlines the regulatory processes within the Department of Transportation and transforms the Surface Transportation Program (STP) into block grants, increasing funding and providing greater flexibility for states and local governments for road surfacing projects.
(R from Pennsylvania) wrote in a Fox News editorial, “The Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act (the STRR Act) will help improve our nation’s vast system of roads, bridges, and public transportation systems.” “Safe, efficient highways and transit means that we spend less time in traffic, and put less wear and tear on our vehicles. It also means transportation costs for goods and services remain lower, our businesses are more competitive, and more jobs are created throughout the economy.”
Rep Shuster wrote, “The legislation refocuses surface transportation resources on addressing national priorities to help our economy grow and drive job creation. By channeling existing funding into a Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects Program, $4.5 billion over six years is authorized for infrastructure improvements that facilitate the flow of commerce and help states and regions undertake significant, complex projects.”
Congressman Shuster said, “The STRR Act also recognizes that while the federal government has a role to play in ensuring a national transportation system, states and local governments know their specific needs better than Washington bureaucrats. For example, the bill converts the substantial Surface Transportation Program into a block grant program, investing more flexibility and decision-making authority at the state and local level. Furthermore, the bill provides more state and local control under the Transportation Alternatives Program, allowing more of that funding to be used on other projects.”
A final vote on the bill could come as soon as Thursday.