Issues: Transportation Infrastructure
OKAA supports development of a new vision for our nation’s surface transportation system. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the law creating the National Interstate Highway System in 1956 and it was largely designed and constructed during the 1960s and 1970s, at a time when the population of the United States was approximately 200 million. Today there are more than 310 million people using America’s roads and bridges, an increase of over 50 percent. Highway congestion is costing more than $78 billion annually in lost productivity, wasted fuel, and lost time with family and friends. It is estimated in 2020 congestion will cause severe transportation delays along growing stretches of interstate highways.
OKAA supported the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), the two-year surface transportation reauthorization bill passed by the 112th Congress. MAP-21 takes great strides in improving the nation’s highway program by consolidating nearly 60 programs into four, making historic reforms in the project delivery process, eliminating earmarks, and expanding project financing and public-private partnership opportunities. But it is imperative that work begin immediately to develop the next reauthorization bill, one that returns to the six-year term and increases investment in America’s surface transportation infrastructure system.
Major Highway Reauthorization Bill Signed into Law
President Obama signed into law a five-year, $305.5 billion surface transportation authorization bill that reauthorizes the federal highway and public transportation programs for fiscall years (FY) 2016-2020 on Dec. 4, 2015. The legislation, called the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) [P.L. 114-94] handily passed the House of Representatives 359-65 and the Senate 83-16. It is the first long-term surface transportation bill since TEA-21 in 1998 and stops the cycle of 36 extensions.
The legislation grows annual federal highway investment by 15.1 percent from the current $40.3 billion to $46.4 billion by Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 and boosts core transit program investment by 17.8 percent from $10.7 billion to $12.6 billion in FY 2020.
The FAST Act, however, does not provide a permanent solution to the Highway Trust Fund's structural revenue deficit. The measure uses a variety of one-time cost savings and non-transportation resources to supplement incoming trust fund revenue to support its investment levels over the next five years. As such, the Highway Trust Fund will be facing another revenue shortfall in roughly four years and the current $15 billion per year gap will widen between what current trust fund receipts can support and the existing investment level.
A stable and sustainable funding option for the future is critical in order to achieve a bold, new, long-term, multi-modal cision for our national transportation system that reflects societal changes, economic imperatives, technological advances, environmental concerns, and national security needs in order to ensure the continued prosperity and security of the United States.
OKAA supported the passage of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, the long-delayed Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill, during the 112th Congress. The bill provides certainty through fiscal year 2015 to the aviation and transportation construction industries and maintains funding levels for the Airport Improvement Program, which funds improvements at airports across the nation and supports more than 100,000 jobs annually. OKAA will continue to work with its coalition partners to ensure full funding in our nation’s aviation infrastructure and to press Congress to begin work immediately on the next reauthorization.
OKAA urges Congress to return to a bi-annual process for approving the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which authorizes important navigation, flood control, recreation, and environmental protection projects. Congress should also fully fund the projects through the Energy & Water Appropriations bill. Too often projects are halted or slowed due to inadequate funding resulting in longer completion timelines and higher costs. Fully funding important water infrastructure projects will return dividends to the American people through an increasingly efficient water transportation network, better environmental protection, and increased recreational opportunities.
OKAA also urges Congress to increase funding for the clean water and drinking water state revolving fund (SRFs) programs that allow localities to leverage federal dollars to pay for essential water and wastewater sewer projects.
OKAA supports the cultural ideal and experience of America-freedom to choose where to work, live, and travel. OKAA believes the American dream of home ownership and the ability to choose an urban, suburban, or rural domicile and workplace is still viable and worthwhile. Quality growth that takes a commonsense approach to protecting endangered species and the environment depends on local land-use planning, reduction of congestion – which will save Americans some of the 4.2 billion hours per year they now spend stuck in traffic – and improvement of air quality by reducing emissions. Reduction of gridlock and traffic congestion by improving old highways and building new ones helps to make our nation’s air cleaner.
The aggregates industry is a responsible steward of the environment. Not only are our products used for environmentally beneficial purposes – such as: flue gas desulphurization, the technology used for removing sulfur dioxide (SO2) from power plant emissions that burn coal or oil; and erosion control and aglime, which helps crop production by improving the efficiency of fertilizers and herbicides while protection the environment – but also to reclaim and return to the communities a variety of positive land uses from wetlands to lakes, wildlife habitats, recreational centers, and even amusement parks and golf courses.