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Mr. GARRETT. Madam Speaker, I rise today to discuss the future of our transportation system in this country.
Back at home in Sussex, Bergen, and Warren Counties in the Fifth District of New Jersey, they are only asking the same thing that people across America are, and that is to have a safe and efficient transportation system of roads and bridges.
The highway trust fund is bankrupt. Our past highway bills have been filled with excessive Federal regulation and pork-laden projects, meaning that the maintenance of our roads and bridges has not been getting done. So we are here today because we don't have the money now to fix them.
Going forward, we have two clear choices. Either we can continue down the same path, the current path, passing a bill to bail out the trust fund to the tune of some $50 billion, or we can find a better way.
Personally, I get tired every year going and speaking to the Secretary of Transportation--it doesn't matter which party--and asking him: Can you tell me what exactly the needs are on Route 17 in Bergen County or Route 519 in Sussex or Warren County? I ask that question, and again and again they will say: Where's Route 17? Where's Route 517? Where's Route 519?
We are here saying we cannot continue to allow Washington, who doesn't know our needs and doesn't know our roads, to tell us how to run things. The solution to our current quagmire is to return the power back to the people who know better, back to the States. States, counties, and local officials are the ones that use these roads. They are in the best position to decide how to use these transportation dollars.
There is not one single Federal official here in Washington, elected or otherwise, who knows the needs of my community or your community with specific detail as well as the people who actually live there, who actually drive on those roads, and who actually have to maintain those roads.
So it is about time, after all these years, that we re-empower the States, re-empower the counties, re-empower the local officials, the people who live and use these roads, to make the transportation decisions, instead of people here in Washington who have no clue what the needs are, who have no idea what the problems are, who have no idea as to actually provide, what I said at the very beginning, what the people in my counties of the Fifth District want as a safe and efficient transportation system.
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