Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, tonight voted against a Republican transportation bill. Larsen has long supported a long-term transportation infrastructure bill that creates jobs and invests in the economy. He opposed this bill because it fails to make needed investments and decreases highway safety.
"This bill was drafted in secret, underfunds critical transportation needs and undermines highway safety," Larsen said. "The bill we need invests in our railways, bridges and highways, strengthens our transit systems, and creates jobs. This bill does not meet these tests.
"Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said this is the "worst transportation bill' he has ever seen. I agree. I will continue to work with my colleagues to improve this bill on the House floor and in the House-Senate conference committee.
"I am disappointed that the bill misses an important opportunity to invest in large-scale, job-creating projects by not continuing the Projects of National and Regional Significance Account. We need a competitive, merit-based program to invest in freight projects. Ensuring a dedicated stream of investment in significant projects around our ports and trade corridors is critical to U.S. productivity and global economic competitiveness.
"I am concerned about a provision that prevents systems like Sound Transit from receiving dollars. These funds are critical to run buses for local commuters in South Snohomish County. I supported an amendment to restore federal funding eligibility for Sound Transit and other similar transit agencies.
"The bill protects ferry funding which is critical to Northwest Washington. This funding will be an important tool to make sure that much-needed improvements to our system, like improving the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal, get the support they need. I will continue working to make sure ferry programs are properly supported in the final legislation.
"My colleagues and I successfully removed the bill's provision to increase maximum truck weights on interstate highways. The nature of interstate commerce requires that we have a national policy on truck weights. If we were to allow heavier trucks on the highways, we would put even greater strain on the pavement and bridges which are already strained and underfunded. Greater truck sizes also bring increased safety risks. I supported an amendment to provide a definitive study on the impacts of increasing truck weights so we can base our decision on real data. Safety groups have raised concerns about this provision, and I think we need to further understand all the consequences of this decision before moving forward."