Chairman Rockefeller Remarks on Building Transportation Infrastructure Through Innovative Funding

July 20, 2011

Chairman Rockefeller asks Sec. Locke questions about strengthening manufacturing in America.WASHINGTON, D.C.—Americans rely on railways, highways, airways, and waterways to efficiently move goods safely to their destinations. States like West Virginia need sound infrastructure to boost economic development in rural communities. Yet, our transportation infrastructure is showing signs of wear and tear and, frankly, much of it is in disrepair.

Across the nation, we are driving on more than 90,000 miles of crumbling highways and more than 70,000 structurally-deficient bridges. Traffic and congestion keep getting worse.

Overall, our country’s infrastructure receives a D-minus grade from a national rating group–even though mileage travelled by cars has increased by 94 percent in the last 25 years. In 2009 alone, congestion cost consumers and businesses well over $115 billion in wasted time and fuel.

It is clear—we must rebuild and invest in the infrastructure that so many Americans depend on.

But some in the House are adamant about the need to slash funding for transportation projects, hiding under the veil of fiscal responsibility. This is not an acceptable solution to a very real problem that will impact every American.

As I have said before, we need smart, targeted spending cuts with smart, targeted revenue increases. Given the harsh realities we’re facing, it is essential that we look at new ways to stretch federal dollars.

This is why I introduced legislation to create a transportation infrastructure investment fund that would leverage federal dollars and encourage private investment into our transportation network. Private sector investors have billions of dollars ready to be put to work on infrastructure projects and we should tap into this vast amount of capital. This will increase the level of funds dedicated to repairing, rebuilding, and expanding our transportation infrastructure.

It’s an investment that can create much-needed construction jobs, manufacturing jobs, and engineering and design jobs for out-of-work Americans and, at the same time, support our nation’s competitiveness.

I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today on how we can effectively partner with the private sector to create jobs and provide a safe and reliable transportation system for Americans.