The Alabama Road Builder - Fall 2015 - (Page 15)

feature Senate Passes Long-Term Transportation Bill By Pete Ruane President & CEO, ARTBA C ongress' late July enactment of yet another short-term extension of federal surface transportation programs to October 29 was a continuation of an all too familiar and disappointing pattern. We've all seen too much of this "punt and leave the stadium" approach over the past several years. That said, there are reasons to be hopeful. Before Congress skedaddled out of Washington for a five-week break, the U.S. Senate passed a six-year reauthorization bill, called the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act, with a bipartisan 65 votes. And House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster expressed his desire to move forward on a long-term bill this September. That's significant progress. Until the Senate passed the DRIVE Act, neither chamber had approved any surface transportation legislation longer than two years since 2005. Even with some reductions, highway investment under the DRIVE Act's first three years will grow at annual rates ranging from 3.1 percent to 3.5 percent - a $4 billion increase by 2018. In comparison, highway investment grew by 1.4 percent annually under the twoyear MAP-21 surface transportation law. While everyone will agree that the DRIVE Act's investment levels aren't what they should be, politics on Capitol Hill these days is the art of the doable. It's The Alabama Roadbuilder * Fall 2015 hard to find any major piece of domestic policy legislation that increases federal investment in anything, let alone getting legislation to pass by a wide bipartisan majority as happened with the DRIVE Act. So, in that context, the recent developments are positive. Nevertheless, ARTBA, its coalition allies and our industry still have a lot of work to do, and we are not going to take a five-week recess like Congress. Our focus going forward will be on the House. Let's start by reminding them of what they said in the summer of 2014 when they passed the extension to May 31, which they've now punted two more times. Here are examples from two key members: "By funding surface transportation programs through May 2015, this legislation provides ... Congress time to continue working on a long-term funding solution and a surface transportation reauthorization bill. This bill in no way precludes Congress from continuing to work on addressing a long-term funding solution, and a long-term reauthorization bill remains a top priority for the Transportation Committee." - July 10, 2014, statement by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) "H.R. 5021 [the bill] provides the necessary funds to keep the federal highway and transit programs running while Congress develops legislation to set these programs on a sound financial footing for the long term." - July 15, 2014, statement by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), now chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee With the DRIVE Act, the latest threemonth extension should bring to a close once and for all claims that Congress needs more time to develop a long-term reauthorization bill and Highway Trust Fund solution. If the House doesn't  like the DRIVE Act, then let them put something better on the table. The time for further short-term extensions is over. As always, we need your help. Unless House members feel pressure from back home, the tendency to do the least they can will likely persist. While your representatives are home during August, please meet with them face-to-face or invite them to your office or job site. Here are the points we suggest you convey to them: * The House does not have to like the Senate bill or take up the Senate bill, but it does have to act. * House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster has said his committee plans to produce a multi-year bill in September. We need you to support that process going forward. * Most importantly, we are asking you to back efforts in the Ways & Means Committee to generate new trust fund resource to not only fill the $15 billion per gap between current spending levels and incoming trust fund revenues but also to ensure any multi-year bill grows surface transportation investment beyond simple inflationary adjustments. * You were elected to address important national issues. Do your part to end the eight-year cycle of short-term bills and temporary trust fund bailouts. Finally, we've updated the ARTBA Grassroots Action Center (http://www. so you can communicate with your congressman via email, Twitter and Facebook. These platforms provide an excellent forum for you to personally engage with your representative. Collectively, we're moving the ball down the field, fighting hard for every yard. No one ever said it would be easy. And, no doubt, there will be ideological  defenses tr ying to stop our progress this fall. We ask you to stay on the field with us and continue to grind it out. Our win comes when the Congress passes, and the president signs, a long-term bill that boosts investment in the federal highway and public transit program. ❏ 15

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Alabama Road Builder - Fall 2015

Executive Director's Message
President's Message
ARBA Convention 2015 Highlights
The Costs of Sound Safety Performance
Senate Passes Long-Term Transportation Bill
Moving Forward With the Northern Beltline
Products and Services Marketplace
Index to Advertiers/
Heard Along the Highway

The Alabama Road Builder - Fall 2015