A bipartisan team of Senate transportation leaders April 10 released their collective priorities for this year’s scheduled reauthorization of MAP-21.

“The reason the four of us are standing here is to send a strong signal to this country that we, as leaders of this Committee, have worked across party lines to act before the Highway Trust Fund cannot pay its bills,” Environment & Public Works (EPW) Chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said at a Capitol Hill news conference.  She was joined by EPW Committee Ranking Member David Vitter (R-La.), Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Ranking Member John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).  The four outlined their commitment to:

  • “Passing a long-term bill, as opposed to a short-term patch;
  • “Maintaining the formulas for existing core programs;
  • “Promoting fiscal responsibility by keeping current levels of funding, plus inflation;
  • “Focusing on policies that expand opportunities for rural areas; and
  • “Continuing our efforts to leverage local resources to accelerate the construction of transportation projects, create jobs, and spur economic growth.”

Of course, the key challenge facing MAP-21’s successor is finding a solution to shore up the ailing Highway Trust Fund (HTF) revenue stream, which has not been adjusted for more than 20 years.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, the HTF requires an additional $16 billion each year just to preserve existing levels of highway and public transportation investment.

The Senate Finance Committee is responsible with identifying possible solutions, but has not yet given any indication on how it plans to proceed on the revenue shortfall.  Chairman Boxer acknowledged the duration of any final bill will depend on the level of new revenues generated.

The senators indicated their desire to act on a reauthorization measure shortly after the Senate returns from a two-week recess that began this week.

Grassroots Call-to-Action
The congressional recess provides an excellent opportunity for industry professionals to get in touch with their members of Congress and their staffs while they are back home in the state and urge them to “Fix the Highway Trust Fund.”  The “Transportation Construction AdvocateTM app has the information you need and can be downloaded to your iphone or Android device.

The Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC), co-chaired by ARTBA and consisting of 29 labor and construction-related associations, also has resources available through its  “Hardhats for Highways” campaign website: www.hardhatsforhighways.org.  The effort aims to help educate Congress about the connection between local jobs and federal highway and transit investment.   Special “Hardhats for Highways” decals can be mailed to construction firms and local unions across the nation asking them to write the number of jobs at their firm on the hats and then present them to their congressman and senators.