Bennet: Time Running Out to Address Highway Trust Fund, Highway Bill

With the Highway Trust Fund on the verge of insolvency and five months before the federal transportation bill expires, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet is calling on Congress to quickly get to work on a solution that will allow us to rebuild and repair our crumbling roads and bridges. Bennet is pushing for a plan that would provide certainty to transportation planners and save thousands of construction jobs in Colorado and millions more across the country.

The law governing the nation’s highway and transit programs, known as MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century), expires September 30, 2014, and the Highway Trust Fund may start to run out of funding even sooner.

“Our parents and grandparents helped build this country from the ground up, but we haven’t had the decency to maintain those assets that helped grow our economy into one of the world’s strongest,” Bennet said. “Washington has turned into the Land of Flickering Lights where we kick the can down the road with short-term extension after short-term extension.

“We’ve seen how this type of uncertainty limits the ability to plan for and build the infrastructure we need. Before we finally passed MAP-21, my office consistently heard how short-term extensions and Congress’ inability to think creatively about how to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent isn’t working for them. Time is running out to address these issues in a meaningful way, and we shouldn’t force unnecessary uncertainty onto our communities yet again.”

Earlier this year, Bennet introduced a bipartisan bill with Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) to jumpstart our nation’s ability to build and repair roads, bridges, highways, ports, schools, and other infrastructure projects. The Partnership to Build America Act will help put people back to work building projects across the country, while helping to improve U.S. competitiveness in the 21st century global economy. It establishes a $50 billion infrastructure fund that can potentially support hundreds of billions in loan guarantees and financing authority for state and local governments. The fund would finance transportation, energy, communications, water, and education infrastructure projects across the country. The bill is not a replacement for keeping the Highway Trust Fund solvent, which is an urgent priority before Congress. But it is a bipartisan proposal to help capitalize infrastructure projects across Colorado and throughout the U.S. 

“In Colorado, we do our best with limited resources to keep things in working order and to break ground on critical new projects like the Arkansas Valley Conduit and the ongoing expansion of public transit in the Denver metro area,” Bennet added. “But with the bipartisan bill we’ve introduced in the Senate, we can make crucial investments to improve and expand our infrastructure that will help us compete in the 21st century economy.”

The Senate bill currently has 13 total cosponsors (7 Republicans, 5 Democrats, and 1 Independent). Representative John Delaney (D-MD) introduced a bipartisan companion in the House of Representatives, which has been cosponsored by 31 Democrats and 31 Republicans.