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In the 1950s, it was a Republican president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who looked into the future and understood that if the United States was to continue to grow and modernize, it needed a strong federal transportation infrastructure. And under his watch he urged the states to work with the federal government to upgrade our roads and bridges, and overcome the “appalling inadequacies” of the nation’s highway network with a federal focus on building a national system of interstate highways.
The National Transportation Safety Board is still examining the cellphone of the engineer involved in a deadly Amtrak accident last month, but as the agency tries to determine the cause of the deadly crash it has concluded that the driver wasn’t talking or texting at the time.
Congress’ upcoming deadline for railroads to implement a complex safety upgrade carries a new gravity after the deadly derailment of an Amtrak train on May 12 that killed eight and injured more than 200 in Philadelphia.
Pass by a bus stop in downtown Los Angeles and you’ll see the faces of those waiting to use public transportation are diverse. Women, seniors, college students, African-Americans and Latinos take various forms of public transportation to get to work, school or even just to get connected to society.
Congress has an example of what’s at stake for transit funding at its doorstep. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority faced a $50 million cut in its federal funding next fiscal year under a House proposal, though planned Wednesday floor action had the final number in flux.
Step into the office of a member of Congress to talk about transportation and you’ll probably get an earful about the size and scope of federal transit programs. Democrats generally want more investment. Some Republicans question whether the federal government should even be involved.
The problem Congress faces in paying for new highways and other transportation projects is that the Highway Trust Fund, which for decades has financed road and transit spending, is running out of revenue.
A big argument against raising the gasoline tax to provide more money for transportation projects is that the gas tax, by its nature, affects low- and middle-income people more than it does the wealthy.
The Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia Tuesday that killed at least seven people and injured hundreds quickly rippled back to Washington, where lawmakers and regulators have been trying to find the right response to a spate of rail accidents in recent years and House appropriators were slated Wednesday to set spending levels for transportation, including Amtrak.
The House Appropriations Committee marked up the fiscal 2016 Transportation-HUD appropriations bill Wednesday with panel members addressing the deadly Amtrak derailment the night before.
In 2013, 47 people were killed in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, when a runaway oil train derailed and exploded.
With Congress starting work on reauthorizing highway and transit programs, several lawmakers from both parties want the government to give more attention to the movement of freight on the nation’s highways, rails and waterways because of its importance to the economy. And since there’s no agreement on how to replenish the Highway Trust Fund, which has mostly paid for road and rail projects for decades, these lawmakers want the new investments in freight infrastructure to have their own dedicated revenue stream.
Earlier this month, I was joined by members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which I chair, other members of Congress and five state secretaries of Transportation from around the country as we traveled across my home state of Pennsylvania.
We’re still in the first days of spring, but I know one of the highlights of the summer for me and for my district is going to be Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game at Great American Ballpark on the Cincinnati riverfront. Not only are baseball fans gearing up for this fun tradition, but the countless small businesses that support the sports industry as a whole, and the city of Cincinnati, have great hopes for the game and all of its associated activities.
The United States has been the international leader in aviation since the Wright brothers’ first flight in 1903. Our aviation system has provided the model for the rest of the world over the past 112 years, and today, it is among the safest and most efficient. But competitors are all around us. If we stop innovating and investing in our aviation system, we will lose our leadership position.
In Pennsylvania, we have some of the most run-down roads and bridges in the country. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 22 percent of our state’s roads have unacceptable pavement quality and 43 percent of our bridges are functionally obsolete or structurally deficient. Earlier this month, I visited the Greenfield Bridge, where another bridge had to be built underneath to protect drivers from debris falling from Greenfield’s crumbling infrastructure.
Congress has a self-inflicted problem in funding the nation’s ports and waterways infrastructure: There’s more money available than lawmakers are likely to spend.
Supporters of a strong federal role in transportation have what seems like an unlikely ally in their effort to shift the direction of highway spending from Washington to the states.
When managers of cargo terminals at 29 West Coast ports closed their facilities to ships last weekend, they opened the door to a new discussion about when the president can invoke powers under labor law to keep the country’s transportation networks running.
West Coast ports opened with a backlog of ships waiting to unload this week, after vessel operations were halted by employers over the weekend.