American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials President Mike Lewis, director of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, testified before the Highways and Transit Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, urging Congress to allow implementation of the "transformative policy and program reforms" included in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) to take place before contemplating major changes.
"In short, we need time to put the reforms in place and have them work as envisioned," Lewis testified. "We are pleased with the progress being made in implementing MAP-21, and are optimistic that the flexibilities delegated to the states and the reforms envisioned by the drafters of MAP-21 will be appropriately reflected in future guidance and regulations. We support and applaud these reforms and urge you to continue these reforms as the platform for the next surface transportation reauthorization bill after Fiscal Year 2014."
Among the reforms included in MAP-21 are ones designed to accelerate project delivery, improve efficiency through performance measurement and transparency, and systematically and effectively address freight transportation needs.
Lewis said that state departments of transportation are pleased with the collaboration with the U.S. Department of Transportation in implementing MAP-21 reforms. However, Lewis asked the committee to encourage USDOT to give priority to implementing the streamlining provisions in order to expedite the economic, social, and environmental benefits that come from improving our transportation system.
He also asked that USDOT focus national performance measures on a credible, meaningful set of measures, and that USDOT implement performance measurement through an iterative process that allows time for experimentation and innovation without fear of penalties. Finally, Lewis asked that the USDOT include state DOT representation on the National Freight Advisory Committee.
In closing, Lewis turned his comments toward funding.
"The reforms to the federal surface transportation program provided in MAP-21 will take years to implement," testified Lewis. "It will all be for naught, however, if Congress does not address the long-term stability of the federal surface transportation program. We stand ready to support you in your efforts to address this fundamental problem."