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Chamber promotes Highway Bill to the States

February 26, 2012

By U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Free Enterprise Blog

Potholes, cracks, crumbling asphalt, and growing congestion – we experience them in our daily commutes, taking the kids to school, and on family roadtrips. The neglect of our infrastructure is costly, as Sheryll Poe reports for FreeEnterprise.com:

“The consequences of inaction on infrastructure are profound. The U.S. Chamber’s Transportation Performance Index shows that the steady decline in the quality of surface, air, and water transportation systems costs the U.S. economy $1 trillion a year in lost economic growth. In just over five years, U.S. infrastructure has plummeted from No. 1 to No. 15 in the World Economic Forum’s economic competitiveness ranking.”

Last week, members of Congress returned to their states and districts without finishing work on the highway bill, but American’s roads and bridges won’t build themselves. They await needed funding for repairs. So, as The Hill reports, the Chamber is zipping across the country educating Americans about the need to pass the highway bill:

“The business group will be hosting breakfasts, lunches and policy roundtables with local chambers and business associations this week in 12 different cities in Ohio, Idaho, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Louisiana.

Janet Kavinoky, the Chamber’s executive director of transportation and infrastructure, will be on the road trip, along with Alex Herrgott, one of the business group’s transportation lobbyists.

“The idea is to get out, give people a good sense what the bill is and get them talking to their members of Congress and have them get the bill done,” Kavinoky said. “We want Congress to feel like it needs to come back to Washington and get the bill done and put it to bed.”

This “boots on the ground” effort complements Americans for Transportation Mobility’s radio and television ad campaign urging lawmakers in Wyoming, Idaho, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, New Hampshire and Arkansas to get the highway bill passed.

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Bob Clark February 26, 2012

I think the Chamber should be more supportive of the U.S House transportation bill, instead of stating its opposition. The U.S House is trying to change the transportation funding formula so local and state government have more discretion over the transportation projects pursued by government. Currently a large chunk of federal transportation funds is being restricted to things like street cars and light rail, which do not lower freight costs and traffic congestion. The only reason these projects go forward is their huge capital expense is ignored in environmental impact statement studies. In fact, these studies treat federal monies as free and without cost. But I can tell you working families paying gasoline taxes are making sacrifice to pay them. Federal monies ought not be treated as costless as they are in the Federal Environmental Impact Statements covering light rail and street car projects.

The House bill would also spur more oil and natural gas supply by incentivizing the federal government to make more of its vast public lands available for drilling. So, the Chamber’s opposition hurts not only freight costs, traffic congestion, but also, domestic energy supply.

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