Nation's Broader Infrastructure Crisis Requires Comprehensive Strategy
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Republicans today called for a National Strategic Transportation Plan to address the nation's deteriorating infrastructure, and opposed the creation of a duplicative bridge program and a gas tax increase without an examination of the existing Highway Bridge Program.
As a response to the I-35W bridge collapse in Minnesota, the Full Committee today held a hearing on structurally deficient bridges.
"Today's hearing, while important, only addresses one part of our nation's infrastructure problem," said U.S. Rep. John L. Mica (R-FL), Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Republican Leader. "Before we go out and create a new bridge program funded by a gas tax increase we should look at where the existing bridge program has failed us and try to fix it.
"More importantly, we need to develop a National Strategic Transportation Plan that addresses infrastructure needs in every mode of transportation and incorporates the expertise and resources of both the private and public sectors.
"We need to develop a solution that is broader than just bridges. Developing a bill that only addresses bridges is comparable to ignoring the crumbling foundation, leaking roof and obsolete plumbing of a 50 year old house and just repaving the driveway.
"We also need to reevaluate how we fund our transportation programs. With each passing day the concept of basing the majority of our revenue stream for highway and transit programs on the gas tax is becoming more obsolete
"A debate on the future of our Nation's transportation plan also should include a debate on what the federal role should be in financing, building, and maintaining our transportation system," Mica said.
"If the existing bridge program is not set up in a way that addresses our Nation's bridge problems then Congress should act to change the existing program before we create a new duplicative program," added U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN), Highways and Transit Subcommittee Ranking Republican.
"I also think we need to make sure that we are making the best use of the revenue that we are currently collecting before we raise the gas tax. We need to step back and re-evaluate our funding priorities to make sure that gas taxes being paid by the drivers in this country are being used for programs that benefit those drivers," Duncan said.