Senator Jay Rockefeller today issued the following statement after the Senate passed a surface transportation bill. The bill lays out programs for the next two years to help create jobs and make the country's roads, bridges, buses, and rail systems safer.
"It's about time both sides came together to pass a transportation bill to build roads, create and save millions of good paying jobs, and improve safety for the tens of millions of Americans who use our transportation system daily to get to work, drop off their kids at school, and visit friends and family," said Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. "The safety of our roads and highways is our top priority. Not only will this legislation make substantial improvements to our nation's infrastructure, but I was also able to include an amendment to highlight the national importance of the Appalachian Highway Development System and increase the federal cost share of this important road network. This program is an asset to our state and West Virginia deserves to see it move forward.
"We need to make much-needed improvements to our nation's infrastructure -- highways, aviation, maritime, and rail -- to create the economic growth necessary for job creation. The results of this bill will be good for West Virginia, good for the American people, and an important step forward."
The two year bipartisan bill makes landmark reforms by providing $109 billion to modernize the country's surface transportation programs and improve safety. It is estimated to create or save 1.8 million jobs nationwide in each of the next two years. With more than 50 percent of roads not in good condition and 70,000 structurally deficient bridges nationwide, including 2,578 bridges in West Virginia, this bill will improve our nation's infrastructure to move people and goods more efficiently, put construction workers -- many who have been hit particularly hard by the recession -- back to work, and jump-start the economy.
Since 2009, federal surface transportation programs have operated under a series of short-term extensions.