Congressman Spencer Bachus (AL-6) said passage of a new long-term federal highway bill will boost the U.S. economy by creating construction jobs and improving transportation efficiency.
By a vote of 373-52, the House today approved a reauthorization of federal transportation programs through September 2014. Senate approval is expected to follow. The programs have been operating under a series of temporary extensions, creating planning uncertainty for state transportation departments, local officials, and highway builders.
"The leading country in the world cannot have a third-world infrastructure. This bill contains important reforms to federal transportation programs and will remove the uncertainty delaying work on badly needed infrastructure improvements. The construction will create jobs and provide an economic boost in Alabama and across our nation," said Congressman Bachus, who spoke in favor of the legislation on the floor.
Bachus said the federal program that provides funding for the Northern Beltline project, the Appalachian Development Highway System, is preserved in the legislation.
Bachus also said that reforms in the bill will streamline the federal review of construction projects, in some cases cutting permitting time by as much as half.
In addition, the legislation includes provisions of the RESTORE Act to ensure that penalties paid by BP and other companies in connection with the Deepwater Horizon spill are used for the restoration of the Gulf Coast ecosystem and economy. Bachus cosponsored the original RESTORE Act legislation when it was introduced in the House.
As Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Congressman Bachus worked to include reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in the bill. Bachus has been a leader in promoting reforms to the NFIP that will save taxpayers more than $2 billion over the next ten years.