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Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. RICHARDSON. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of the Waters-McCollum-Lee-Cleaver-Bass-Richardson-Rush-Matsui amendment which, unfortunately, was not found in order. I would hope that the Members here, the leadership, would reconsider that decision.

I'm strongly in support of seeking to restore the $500 million for an additional year of the widely popular and highly successful, might I say, TIGER grant program.

As a member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and as a Representative of one of the most transportation-intensive infrastructure districts in the country, I know how important it is to maintain an efficient transportation infrastructure that will help our country remain competitive globally, throughout this country and in the world.

The TIGER program enables DOT to use a rigorous process to select projects with exceptional benefits to explore ways to deliver projects faster and to save on construction costs. It also enables us to make investments in our Nation's infrastructure and to make communities more livable and sustainable.

The 2012 TIGER IV program received 703 grant applications, requesting a total of $10.2 billion from all 50 States, including the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. The first three TIGER programs received nearly 2,250 applications, requesting more than $95 billion.

Now, some might say certainly we must have our financial house in order and we have to really look at how we spend the dollars that are available. But I would argue before the committee today that TIGER grants was actually a program that was used, it was well monitored. The programs were brought forward, and they were done at a benefit not only for the funding initially of those programs, but for the jobs that they provided as well.

Clearly, there is a need for additional investment in our country's infrastructure. We have reports in my area, for example, in California of many of the roads and the highways where we receive a D grade due to the lack of the quality of infrastructure in our community.

Of the 47 projects that were funded in the most recent round of TIGER grants, nearly 16 percent went specifically to port infrastructure, according to the American Association of Port Authorities, which calculated $69.7 million would be directed to the ports.

Funding these projects is crucial to the U.S. port facilities. It supports 13.3 million jobs and accounts for $3.15 trillion in business activity that by having better roads and infrastructure we can continue, and the TIGER grants help us to do that.

In addition to restoring the full $500 million for the TIGER program, I believe that the conference report that comes before this body should contain the Senate's MAP-21 National Freight program and the Projects of National and Regional Significance program.

Since coming to Congress, I have advocated for a National Freight program and policy, and that's why I introduced H.R. 1122, the Freight FOCUS Act. The Freight FOCUS Act establishes the Office of Freight Planning and Development within the Department of Transportation to coordinate a national freight policy. By creating a national freight advisory committee, private and public sector entities would have direct input into funding priorities and planning.

The National Freight program would provide over $2 billion a year to upgrade our Nation's goods movement system. That equates to $336 million to the State of California, alone, over 2 years for freight infrastructure upgrades. These funds are critical to areas like mine, a district where over 40 percent of our entire Nation's cargo goes through the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach and, ultimately, through my district.

In addition to MAP-21, which would authorize $1 billion for the Projects of National and Regional Significance, according to the Bloomberg Government report, the cost of congestion to the trucking industry totalled $23 billion in 2010, almost a quarter of the cost of congestion to the entire economy.

Investing in key intermodal links, such as the Gerald Desmond Bridge, which was a project that was funded through the Projects of National Significance, these links and the jobs that are associated to them are vital to us moving goods throughout this country.

Without programs like TIGER and PNRS, critical infrastructure like the Gerald Desmond Bridge--that has a diaper underneath it catching concrete, which Chairman Mica visited and saw himself--these types of bridges would continue to crumble and put a vital link to our Nation's largest seaports to consumers at risk.

I would like to encourage my colleagues to accept, even though it's been initially found out of order, to reconsider that effort, and hope, as we go forward, there will be a greater precedence, as the committee report comes out, for the National Freight program and the Projects of Regional Significance. I look forward to the decision and support in the future.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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