Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV today reiterated the need to invest in the country's transportation network after President Obama released his budget that includes $50 billion in upfront transportation infrastructure investments. Rockefeller and Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) recently introduced legislation that would leverage federal investment to rebuild and expand transportation infrastructure and create American jobs.
"It's no secret that our country has fallen far behind meeting its infrastructure investment needs. The President has proposed a number of bold steps in his budget to find unique ways to meet these national needs. My infrastructure fund is one option that would leverage private investment to maximize the return on federal taxpayer dollars and put Americans back to work. We desperately need to invest now to set ourselves up for the next century of transportation challenges and opportunities. At the same time, these critical investments will only benefit future generations if we lay out a strategic, long-term plan for an interconnected transportation network."
Transportation infrastructure is an essential part of the U.S. economy. Every day, Americans rely on our nation's infrastructure to commute safely to work, visit family and friends, and travel freely around the country. Businesses depend on a well-functioning transportation system to manage their supply chains and move their goods and services to market. A well-maintained, efficient transportation system is essential to the economic competitiveness of the U.S.
However, investment into transportation infrastructure has lagged in recent decades and America has developed an infrastructure investment backlog. Notably, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimates a need of $3.6 trillion by 2020 into our nation's rails, roads, bridges, ports, transit systems, and other infrastructure in order to meet the needs of our country. The Society has graded the nation's infrastructure at a "D+". In a recently-released economic analysis, ASCE estimated that, if this investment backlog is not addressed by 2020, the U.S. will cumulatively lose more than $3.1 trillion in GDP and $1.1 trillion in total trade.
The American Infrastructure Investment Fund Act of 2013 would:
*Establish within the Department of Transportation (DOT) a Fund designed to leverage federal dollars to incentivize private investment in transportation projects that maintain American economic competitiveness, which would be authorized at $5 billion for fiscal years 2014 and 2015;
*Use a variety of tools, such as loans and loan guarantees, to provide financial assistance to eligible projects that would be evaluated in an objective and transparent manner to encourage private, State, regional, and local entities to make capital investments into these critical projects;
*Define eligible types of projects including rail lines, marine ports, pipelines, airports, highways, bridges, public transportation systems, and other transportation-related projects. The Fund would be designed to allow it to broaden its investment portfolio in the future into other infrastructure projects, including telecommunications, energy, and water projects; and
*Authorize a multimodal National Infrastructure Investment Grant program within DOT at $600 million for fiscal years 2014 and 2015, which would provide funds to build new or improve existing transportation infrastructure.