Obama signs new $105 billion highway bill
President Obama on July 6 signed signed into law a combined transportation, student loan and flood insurance bill at a White House event.
The House and Senate on June 29 passed a new two-year $105 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), the AASHTO Journal reports. The measure, H.R. 4348, passed the House 373-52, just before the June 30 expiration of the ninth extension of SAFETEA-LU. The Senate passed the bill 74-19, according to the AASHTO Journal report.
Pete Ruane, president and CEO of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) says that both Republicans and Democrats deserve a lot of credit for the new surface transportation law, pointing out that the law is going to restore public confidence in the federal highway and transit investment program.
“This wasn’t business as usual, just ‘rearranging the deck chairs,’ adding pet programs and throwing money at congressional earmarks,” Ruane said in a written statement. “The new law is truly a ‘good government’ measure that makes the significant program reforms necessary to set the stage for meaningful, transparent and accountable federal transportation investments in the future.”
Ruane says that instead of having Congressional earmarks, the law focuses federal dollars “on meeting critical national needs like efficient freight movement and driving down the number of motor vehicle crashes that result in unnecessary American deaths and injuries.
“It eliminates, consolidates or streamlines dozens of programs, giving state and local governments more decision-making control,” Ruane added in the press statement. “It opens the door to more private investment in large, congestion-busting transportation projects. And, most importantly, it ushers in performance standards and reporting requirements so that the public will now know how their federal transportation dollars are being used and what kind of return on investment they are receiving.”
Ron Summers, senior vice president, Materials Division, for Glendora, Calif.-based CalPortland Co., lauded the bill, saying that it assures the employment of 3 million Americans in the construction industry, where unemployment has outpaced the national rate.
National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) President and CEO Joy Pinniger says the bill will help put the aggregates industry back on the road to economic growth.
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