U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx unveiled a long-term transportation bill he is sending to Congress for consideration as the House and Senate face looming deadlines to avoid the economic uncertainty and job loss that would ensue if the Highway Trust Fund runs out of money this summer. The GROW AMERICA Act reflects President Obama’s vision for a four-year surface transportation reauthorization bill that would create millions of jobs and lay the foundation for long-term competitiveness, rebuilding crumbling roads and bridges while providing much-needed certainty for local and state governments and addressing the country’s future needs.
“I visited eight states and 13 cities as part of my Invest in America, Commit to the Future bus tour this month and everywhere I went, I heard the same thing – people want more transportation options and better roads and bridges to get them where they need to go,” said Secretary Foxx. “Failing to act before the Highway Trust Fund runs out is unacceptable – and unaffordable. This proposal offers the kind of job creation and certainty that the American people want and deserve. I have been pleased to see that members of both parties are already working together to solve these challenges, and I look forward to continuing our discussion and to supporting and building on the good work that’s already been done.”
On February 26, Secretary Foxx joined President Obama to announce a plan to address the nation’s infrastructure deficit with a $302 billion, four-year surface transportation reauthorization proposal. As outlined in the FY2015 budget, the plan will invest in our national infrastructure network, increase safety and efficiency, and provide greater access to ladders of opportunity, all without adding to the deficit, by relying on the President’s proposed pro-growth business tax reforms.
The GROW AMERICA Act is based on this plan, and represents a number of proposals that have historically attracted bipartisan support including:
Addressing the shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund and providing an additional $87 billion to address the nation’s backlog of deficient bridges and aging transit systems;
- Creating millions of new jobs to ensure America’s future competitiveness;
- Increasing safety across all modes of surface transportation, including increasing the civil penalties the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) can levy against automakers who fail to act quickly on vehicle recalls;
- Providing certainty to state and local governments that must engage in long-term planning;
- Reducing project approval and permitting timelines while delivering better outcomes for communities and the environment;
- Bolstering efficient and reliable freight networks to support trade and economic growth; and
- Creating incentives to better align planning and investment decisions to comprehensively address regional economic needs while strengthening local decision-making.
“GROW AMERICA makes the sizable investment needed to improve our country’s roads and bridges,” said Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau. “Improving U.S. infrastructure is a national priority, and will ensure America’s economy remains robust for generations yet to come.”
“We commend the Obama Administration for putting forward a four-year proposal that recognizes the need for the significant boost in transportation infrastructure investment necessary to grow the economy, create jobs, and increase the nation’s productivity and international competitiveness," said ARTBA President & CEO Pete Ruane. “At the same time, we urge Congress and the President to engage forthrightly in developing a long-term solution to address the impending financial crisis facing the Highway Trust Fund, and then move quickly to take action on a multi-year highway, bridge and public transportation investment bill."
“The Administration’s proposal makes forward-leaning investments in ladders to economic opportunity for the many millions of Americans who want to work, or simply need a reliable and safe way to get to work,” said Deputy Federal Transit Administrator Therese McMillan. “The GROW AMERICA Act will put thousands of Americans to work on repairing and expanding our aging transit infrastructure, while training women, minorities, and veterans to fill the jobs gap in transit through innovative new workforce development programs.”
“The GROW AMERICA Act will provide rail with a predictable, dedicated funding source and the tools needed to drive the next generation of rail safety and development,” said Joseph C. Szabo, Federal Railroad Administrator. “It lays out a comprehensive strategy to eliminate risk on railroads through data-driven enforcement, proactive safety programs that identify risk in advance, and strong capital investment. The safety gains identified in the bill, coupled with new investments in a higher performance rail network will move rail into the 21st Century.”
“Commercial bus travel is increasingly popular and this legislation will build on our unprecedented efforts to make it even safer by expanding oversight to bus ticket brokers and the locations where motorcoaches can be inspected,” said Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "In addition, it will ensure fair pay for long-distance bus and truck drivers who are often paid by the miles they travel, not their total time on-duty, and face economic pressure to jeopardize safety by driving beyond the mandatory limits.”
“Whether traveling by motor vehicle, walking or bicycling, we are committed to ensuring that Americans reach their destinations safely. Our approach will continue to support both safer behavior and safer vehicles to prevent deaths and injuries on our roadways,” said Acting Administrator David Friedman, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “As the nation’s top regulator of the automotive industry, we hold manufacturers accountable for defect and compliance issues regarding their products and are seeking to further our ability to do so in the future, including increasing civil penalty limits nearly 10 times to $300 million."
“On a typical day, more than 6.1 million tons of hazmat move throughout our nation’s transportation network,” said Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administrator Cynthia Quarterman. “The GROW AMERICA Act promotes efficiencies and improvements that will help PHMSA ensure that the transport of hazmat by road, rail, air and water continues to move safely and efficiently.”
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Executive Director Bud Wright offered these comments:
"We are pleased that the Administration has submitted legislation to Congress that emphasizes the urgent need to invest in America's infrastructure," Wright said. "We have stated previously that we support the policy framework established in MAP-21 and that we should implement the provisions of that law before making significant, new programmatic changes. We support finding a long-term, sustainable source of revenue to support surface transportation investment. While we may not agree with all aspects of the Administration's proposal, we look forward to the continuing dialogue with Congress and the Administration on charting America's transportation future."
Transportation interests remain concerned about the impacts to the nation's surface transportation infrastructure if the federal Highway Trust Fund becomes insolvent, as projected, this summer. Additional information on the issue, including potential state-specific impacts, is available here.
Earlier this month, Secretary Foxx traveled across the country on his Invest in America, Commit to the Future bus tour, with visits to manufacturers, bridges, freight facilities, and highway projects to raise awareness of America’s infrastructure deficit. Secretary Foxx met with business leaders, stakeholders and members of communities to discuss the projects that work, projects that are needed, and to ask them to commit to a future with an American transportation system that’s second-to-none.
In the face of current uncertainty of federal transportation investment, many states have postponed or canceled needed transportation projects altogether. And without additional investment, deficiencies in our nation’s infrastructure will cost businesses more than $1 trillion every year in lost sales. Despite this growing need, the Highway Trust Fund, which provides most of the federal support for state transportation projects, is on track to start bouncing checks as early as August. In January, the Department of Transportation began posting a ticker online so the American people can track the remaining funds, available here.