Ahead of EPW Markup of Surface Transportation Bill, Blumenthal Urges Long-Term, Robust Infrastructure Investment

Current authorization governing funding of highways, infrastructure expires at the end of July

 Long-term, ample investment will offer stability to construction industry, create thousands of jobs across country

 BRIDGE Act introduced last week would give states and cities a new, innovative financing tool to help rebuild infrastructure, put construction workers back on the job

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) urged his colleagues on the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee (EPW) to ensure there is a long-term, robust commitment to infrastructure investment in the surface transportation bill, which the committee is planning to mark up on Wednesday. In a letter to Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Ranking Member Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Blumenthal cited the dire state of America’s crumbling roads and bridges and the urgent need to prioritize long-term infrastructure funding.

Blumenthal wrote, “The federal government now spends about $40 billion annually on roads and highways, yet the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Federal Highway Administration estimate that our country needs $170 billion in annual capital investments to ensure our roads are in reliable condition.  States and municipalities cannot make up that shortfall, so it’s critical that the federal government assert a strong role in transportation and provide them with the resources they desperately need.”

“It is crucial that the bill cover many years.  States and local governments need the certainty that comes with a five or six-year reauthorization measure…when states are given true certainty, they hire more workers, which is essential in the construction industry as it has a joblessness rate nationally hovering at 10 percent.”

Blumenthal’s letter comes days after the introduction of the BRIDGE Act, bi-partisan legislation he and others introduced. “ I am a proud co-sponsor of the bipartisan Building and Renewing Infrastructure for Development and Growth in Employment (BRIDGE) Act, which was introduced last week and will give states and cities a new, innovative financing tool that will help pull billions in capital off the sidelines and put it to use where it’s needed most:  rebuilding our infrastructure and putting construction workers back on the job.  I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee to advance this measure so we can build the smart, safe and sufficient transportation network our economy demand.”

Blumenthal addressed the need for legislation to address additional areas, such as advancing innovative ways to finance infrastructure and encourage public-private partnerships. “There are many other proven measures within the purview of your committee that can also help get capital off the sidelines and put it to use rebuilding our roads.  I urge the committee to strengthen and expand opportunities like the Transportation, Infrastructure, and Financing Innovation Act (TIFIA) and public-private partnerships so states can take advantage of all available funding options.”

Blumenthal also recognized the specific needs of states with older infrastructure such as Connecticut, stating “It’s important that the bill recognize the needs of older, decaying infrastructure that is so prevalent in the Northeast region.  Our state’s roads are some of the oldest in the country – I have 20,000 miles of public roadways and half built before 1962.  The deterioration of theses highways threatens Connecticut’s competitiveness and ability to grow and prepare for the future.”

Full text of the letter can be viewed here.