By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, November 5 the U.S. House of Representative Congress passed a new six year transportation bill. U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R from Montrose) said that this is a major step toward getting a new I-10 bridge built over the Mobile River.
Congressman Byrne (R-AL) said that he has long called on Congress to pass a long-term, reliable highway bill that will allow large highway projects, like the I-10 bridge, to move forward. Congressman Byrne was especially pleased to see the highway bill include new grants for “Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects.” Byrne strongly believes the I-10 bridge project would qualify for this new funding stream.
Rep. Byrne said in a statement: “The passage of a long-term highway bill is very good news for the I-10 bridge project and other major road projects in Southwest Alabama. For years, we have been stuck in a dangerous cycle of passing short-term highway bills that made it almost impossible to start major highway projects. This bill would provide the certainty needed to move forward with new projects and make much needed improvements to our nation’s ailing infrastructure.”
According to Rep. Byrne the legislation lays out nationally significant freight and highway projects that will: “improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of the movement of freight and people;” “generate national or regional economic benefits and an increase in the global economic competitiveness of the United States;” “reduce highway congestion and bottlenecks;” “improve connectivity between modes of freight transportation; or” “enhance the strength, durability, and serviceability of critical highway infrastructure.”
Rep. Byrne said: “Given the traffic to and from the Port of Mobile and the project’s location on a major interstate, the I-10 bridge is a textbook example of a ‘nationally significant freight and highway project.’ I was proud to vote in favor of this legislation, and I look forward to working with Senators Shelby and Sessions to get a final highway bill to the President’s desk for his signature.”
The Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act was sponsored by Congressman Bill Shuster’s (R from Pennsylvania). The STRR Act is the longest surface transportation measure (six years) passed in over a decade and was a major initiative that Congressman Shuster has been working on since taking over as Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Chairman Shuster said in a statement: “A long-term highway bill impacts the life of every single American. Our families will have safer roads and our small businesses and communities will thrive with a stronger transportation network. This long-term bill accomplishes something long overdue. It provides our state and local partners the certainty needed to invest in major projects that will spur economic growth.”
Congressman Shuster said, “We all drive on roads and bridges across Central and Southwestern Pennsylvania that are in desperate need of repair. These investments cannot happen without a long-term bill, and I am proud that the House took action on an issue that quite frankly could not wait any longer.”
The six-year highway bill passed by a vote of 363 to 64.
Since the House and Senate passed different versions of the highway bill, a Conference Committee made up of House and Senate members will be formed to work out the differences. The current highway bill is scheduled to expire on November 20, 2015.