Dear Mr. Speaker:
As the House and Senate work to finalize a long term surface transportation conference report, we urge you to support the higher funding levels needed to strengthen our surface transportation infrastructure and improve our competitiveness.
There is bipartisan agreement that our transportation infrastructure is crumbling because the federal investment has failed to keep pace with our growing transportation needs. A quarter of our bridges are deficient; more than half our road are rated below good condition, and congestion increasingly burdens commerce. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives our infrastructure a nearly failing grade of D+.
Prior to MAP-21, successive surface transportation bills consistently provided significant increases in funding. Unfortunately, while the Senate bill does contain small increases above the current inadequate baseline spending levels, neither the House nor the Senate version of H.R. 22 identifies or guarantees the funding sources sufficient to maintain our current transportation infrastructure, let alone the upgrades that are so urgently needed to expand and modernize that infrastructure.
Given this shortfall in funding, we urge you to join us in supporting a conference report that "packs the most punch" by shortening the duration of the reauthorization -- perhaps to three or four years instead of six -- and increasing the transportation investment in each of those years. This is not a novel idea: the Chamber of Commerce recently wrote, "The Chamber urges you to ensure that the conference report maximizes the benefits it would provide, rather than focusing on the number of years the transportation authorization would last. Providing increased funding for projects within less than the six year duration of this bill would help ensure long overdue needs are addressed in a more timely basis."
We believe this approach will create jobs, improve our international competitiveness, make our roads safer, and provide American families and businesses with better transportation alternatives.