AASHTO ‘pleased’ Obama pushing for transportation investment

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Executive Director John Horsley issued a statement on Oct. 13 commending President Barack Obama on his Columbus Day speech that called for bipartisan support to bring about a “fundamental overhaul” of the country’s “woefully inefficient” federal surface transportation systems to reduce unemployment and allow America to remain competitive in the global marketplace.

“We are pleased that the president wants to press for enactment of a $50 billion down payment on a long-term transportation bill in the lame duck session,” said Horsley. “The analysis we’ve done shows the investments made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be wrapping up next year. Unless there is an initiative like the president’s to continue investment in transportation, you will see 300,000 construction related jobs lost by the end of next year.”

“We also agree with the economic analysis that shows investing in transportation now is a good deal for taxpayers. Many of the economic recovery projects built by state DOTs over the past two years have received bids on average 30 percent below the engineers’ estimates.

“We now stand ready to roll up our sleeves and help the president and Congress enact a new transportation authorization act that is so desperately needed by states to continue addressing our most pressing transportation needs.”

Congress has been forced to extend SAFETEA-LU – the highway and transit authorization act that expired on September 30, 2009 – five times in the past 12 months and, as the President puts it, “we can no longer afford to sit still.”

AASHTO this month issued a new report, More Projects and Paychecks: Transportation’s Summer of Recovery that illustrates how states are delivering projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). As of August 31, 2010, work was underway on 4,200 mass transit projects totaling $5.4 billion and 11,978 highway and bridge projects, totaling $24.1 billion.

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A total of 13,000 highway projects worth $26.4 billion have been approved for construction that, when completed, will improve 35,399 miles of highways and 1,200 bridges. See the full report More Projects and Paychecks: Transportation’s Summer of Recovery at https://recovery.transportation.org/