Washington, DC—July 24, 2013—Speaking today at a Joint Economic Committee Congressional hearing, Building America’s Future co-chair and former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell urged lawmakers to pay close attention to proposals at the state and local level that have been successful in generating additional revenue to build and maintain their transportation networks. From legislative actions to the continued success of local ballot measures, states and cities have been hotbeds of innovation and activity. As Congress considers the reauthorization of MAP-21, Gov. Rendell suggested that some of the lessons learned at the state and local level could be applied to help fund the nation’s roads, bridges and transit systems.
“Many at the state and local levels are weary of waiting for Washington to act and have begun to take matters into their own hands. This year alone, four governors have signed legislation to increase revenue for transportation and several others had proposed similar measures,” said Gov. Rendell. “Additionally, the creation of the West Coast Infrastructure Exchange and the growing number of states that are partnering with the private sector demonstrate the determination of governors and mayors to ensure that their transportation networks are meeting the demands of the 21st century.”
Throughout his testimony, Gov. Rendell highlighted ways the American infrastructure system is not keeping pace with the demands of a growing population. Earlier this year, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) rated the US infrastructure a D+ overall. Due to traffic congestion, American drivers are wasting 2.9 billion gallons of fuel at a cost of $121 billion—roughly $818 per commuter. America’s rail infrastructure is no better. According to BAF’s own report, Falling Apart, Falling Behind, it often takes longer for a freight train to get through the city limits of Chicago than it does to travel from edge of Chicago to Los Angeles. The World Economic Forum in 2005 ranked America’s infrastructure number one in the world for economic competitiveness. In just seven years, America slipped to number fourteen.
Gov. Rendell warned that this discussion cannot just be framed in terms of how much it costs to invest in new ports or bridges - there is also a huge cost associated with doing nothing. Aging and unreliable roads, rails, runways and transit systems will increase the costs to businesses by $1.2 trillion and to households by $611 billion by 2020, according to a report issued by ASCE.
“Infrastructure is an economic driver and has the added benefit of creating long-term quality jobs that can’t be outsourced. It improves the quality of our lives and enhances our economic competitiveness. There is no better time to invest in America’s future,” said Gov. Rendell.
BAF’s recommendations to the Committee include:
· Creating a commission charged with producing a ten-year critical infrastructure plan that makes significant new investments;
· Passing a long-term transportation bill;
· Establishing a National Infrastructure Bank to, among other things, target federal dollars to economically strategic freight gateways and corridors and invest more strategically in projects of national or regional significance that will deliver real economic returns;
· Increasing the authorization level of Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act;
· Making the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program permanent;
· Raising or lifting the cap on Private Activity Bonds; Developing other ways to pay for building and maintain roads; and
· Lifting the federal ban on tolling interstates.
To read Gov. Rendell’s full testimony, please visit http://bit.ly/19giCSQ.