Representative Reid Ribble (WI-08), a member of the House Transportation Committee and Transportation Conference Committee, released the following statement on the bipartisan H.R. 4348, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Conference Report, which passed the House today by a vote of 373-52. The most recent short-term extension is set to expire on June 30, 2012. This is the first time in seven years that a long-term transportation bill has passed.
"I was honored to be one of the few Freshman and only member from Wisconsin to serve on the Conference Committee to craft this long-term transportation bill. I have been outspoken on the importance of building and maintaining a strong and reliable transportation system and I'm glad that both parties and both chambers found common ground on this important issue. After three years of stop and start extensions, I'm happy that we can finally move forward with a bipartisan, multi-year highway bill that will restore some much-needed certainty in our economy.
"I am particularly proud of the work we've done to streamline and speed up construction projects. A few weeks back, I offered an amendment in the House to cut the bureaucratic red tape that prevents building roads and bridges in a timely and cost effective manner. Our environmental streamlining language makes great strides in reducing the duplicative permitting requirements that slow down important projects.
"The Conference Report also includes several other provisions that will greatly benefit the people of Wisconsin. I worked to help keep small transit systems like Green Bay Metro and Valley Transit up and running so they can continue serving our communities. I also fought to increase Wisconsin's percentage of highway funding from the original House-passed bill so that Wisconsinites get their fair share. This will ensure that municipalities and road builders in our state have the resources they need to move projects forward and jump start local economies.
"It's been a long road to this point. A sound infrastructure goes hand in hand with a sound economy, and I'm glad that we finally reached this historic agreement that puts an end to the status quo of short-term, uncertain extensions."