Rep. Tom Reed met Monday with highway commissioners across the 23rd Congressional District in Elmira to discuss the need for local infrastructure improvements and how the implementation of federal legislation, including MAP-21, is impacting their operations.
"The federal government has an important role to play in funding our nation's infrastructure, especially in rural areas," Reed said. "Highway commissioners and superintendents we met with stressed a real need to minimize duplicative regulations that place further restrictions on their ability to make infrastructure improvements. Worsening road and bridge conditions are public safety risks and improvements shouldn't be slowed by bureaucratic red tape."
Reed said with fewer burdensome regulations to comply with, highway departments will complete projects in a more timely manner, thus being able to allocate more resources to jobs in construction. "More construction jobs, better roads and bridges, and a simpler process -- all while saving taxpayer dollars," Reed said.
Much of the conversation centered around the "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21)," legislation that passed Congress last year that provides infrastructure funding through September 2014. The final legislation included language Reed spearheaded to exempt routine highway safety and transportation upgrades that already exist within the current right of ways from costly federal permitting requirements and exemptions to the burdensome environmental paperwork process.
"As the MAP-21 expiration approaches in September 2014, it's important we hear from commissioners and superintendents now on what Congress should be focused on to ensure a long-term, viable highway bill is passed."
Reed has made local infrastructure improvements a priority -- introducing the "BUILD Bridges Act" aimed at improving bridge maintenance, rehabilitation, reconstruction and replacement projects, the "Remove Unnecessary Roadblocks to Local Transportation Safety Projects Act" to cut down on paperwork for routine highways safety projects, and the "Maximize our Highways Act" to better utilize sections of federal roads.
Reed's office continues work to ensure upgrades are made to the Southern Tier's I-86 and I-99, the Rte. 15 corridor, completion of Rte. 219 and improvements to the North Chautauqua Water District -- all critical lifelines for the New York State economy.
"We took away some great feedback from our meeting on what legislation is working, what unexpected consequences have arisen, and suggestions on how we can improve upon programs."