By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

ARTBA President and CEO Pete Ruane June 23 joined the bipartisan leadership of the U.S. Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee at a Capitol Hill news conference to introduce a six-year surface transportation reauthorization bill, called the “Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act.”  See related Newsline story on the proposal.

The EPW Committee “has once again demonstrated improving the nation’s transportation network and strengthening the U.S. economy is an area where the two parties can come together for the good of the American people,” Ruane said. “At a time when cynicism about our public sector institutions is at unprecedented levels, today’s introduction of the DRIVE Act is also a powerful signal that some in Washington are focused on delivering the mail—and every other product that American citizens and business need on a daily basis.”

EPW Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) was joined by Ranking Member Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee Chairman David Vitter (R-La.), and Tom Carper (D-Del.), senior member of the EPW committee, in announcing the plan.

“Our nation’s roads and highways have suffered under too many short-term extensions, which have led to higher costs, more waste, and less capability to prioritize major modernization projects to address growing demands on our interstates,” Inhofe said. “The DRIVE Act will provide states and local communities with the certainty they deserve to plan and construct infrastructure projects efficiently.”

Boxer noted there are 39 days until the July 31 deadline to extend highway/transit spending through the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). “This is what you call an emergency,” she said, adding the bill is “a major first step,” but other committees also need to act.

The DRIVE Act would increase spending over six years by about $90 billion more than is currently generated by the federal highway motor fuels tax, according to Inhofe.  He and Boxer said they are confident their colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee are working diligently to find the money for the bill. The House Ways & Means Committee is also exploring ways to fix the Highway Trust Fund and address future transportation financing.

Watch Ruane’s full statement.