Congressman Tom Reed today announced that he has introduced the Maximize Our Highways Act in the House of Representatives. The Act directs the Department of Transportation to conduct a study to determine methods for putting the millions of acres of land associated with federal highways to productive use generating energy and revenue.
"This is part of our effort to find new ways to reduce our debt and create jobs," Reed explained. "At a time when the national debt has climbed to more than $16 trillion, we have to leverage every resource we have to maximize the value for taxpayers."
Reed estimated that more than five million acres of federal land could be put to use by the Department of Transportation. "The land has great value," Reed observed. He noted that proceeds from utilization could amount to billions of dollars which could be put toward lowering the deficit, paying down the national debt, or invested in infrastructure improvements."
The purpose is to start the conversation on better utilization of federal assets, including land. "We aren't looking to find a "one-size fits all' solution," Reed stated. "What may be a good idea in one place may not work in another. This is a stake in the ground to force people to start talking about how these assets can earn money for taxpayers and create private sector jobs.
Possible uses for the land could include growing different grasses, shrubs or crops to be harvested as a biomass energy source, leasing of mineral rights, leasing of advertising rights, and allowing entrepreneurs to develop uses for the land. "The larger message is that rather than let the land and other assets lie fallow, let's find new productive uses for them."