‘The Road to Reauthorization’ starts on Capitol Hill

“In the spirit of March Madness, it’s time to get the surface transportation bill on the court and in play,” the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s (ARTBA) chief elected officer, ARTBA 2011 Chairman Bill Cox, told the House Highways & Transit Subcommittee at a March 30 hearing.

“We recognize writing and enacting a multi-year highway and transit reauthorization bill will not be easy,” Cox said. “The most important thing members of this Committee can do at this stage, however, is to produce legislation and jumpstart the process. Until this is done, we are missing an opportunity to provide a long-term foundation for full economic recovery and renewed competitiveness.”

Since 2008, the reauthorization of the federal surface transportation programs has been the subject of two-congressionally mandated commissions, two other independent commissions, dozens of House and Senate hearings, and countless stakeholder recommendations, Cox said, in underscoring the importance of moving forward on the legislation now.

Cox, president of Annapolis Junction, Md.-based Corman Construction, Inc., one of the one of the Mid-Atlantic’s largest transportation contractors, told the House panel the federal government has the responsibility for helping ensure the efficient movement of commerce among the states.

“In today’s global economy, a country’s transportation infrastructure capabilities are either a competitive advantage or a stumbling block — this is something our economic rivals around the world have already recognized,” Cox said.

The ARTBA chairman reiterated the association’s support for realigning the structure and mission of the highway and transit programs around clearly defined national objectives, such as goods movement and improved system performance. “Achieving these outcomes will require program reforms to ensure the use of federal transportation funds is performance-driven, transparent and accountable,” Cox said.

He also noted the critical role of the nation’s surface transportation network to generating economic activity and sustaining jobs in many American industries.  “Every manufacturing plant in the U.S., every retail store, every plumber and service worker, every trucker and nearly 80 million total American jobs depend on highways, airports and railroads for inputs and to deliver products and services,” he said.  “The efficiency of the nation’s surface transportation network directly impacts the health of these dependent industries.”

Cox’s testimony included a number of specific recommendations to improve the nation’s surface transportation network, leverage federal funds, and accelerate the transportation project review and delivery process.

To view Cox’s testimony, go to the “government affairs” section of www.artba.org.