AASHTO President Mike Lewis Talks Need for Strong Transportation Infrastructure Investment at Senate EPW Hearing

AASHTO Journal, 27 September 2013

At a Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing Wednesday, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials President and Rhode Island Department of Transportation Director Mike Lewis strongly urged Congress to strengthen the Highway Trust Fund for the future of transportation investment.

Lewis began his testimony by mentioning three major points, saying that if Congress does not act on the HTF within the next 12 months:

  1. States will be unable to obligate virtually any new federal funds in FY 2015.
  2. There will be immediate and direct impact to state economies.
  3. States simply cannot fill the infrastructure funding gap without federal funding from the HTF, even with innovative funding options.

Other hearing panelists included: American Road and Transportation Builders Association President and CEO Pete Ruane, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director of Transportation and Infrastructure and Vice President of Americans for Transportation Mobility Coalition Janet Kavinoky, American Highway Users Alliance President and CEO Gregory Cohen, National Construction Alliance Executive Vice President Ray Poupore, and American Society of Civil Engineers President Gregory DiLoreto.

“Given the devastating impact that a virtual elimination of federal surface transportation funding and potential delays on federal reimbursements to state DOTs in FY 2015 can have on economic recovery and construction industry employment, we look forward to assisting you with the rest of your Senate colleagues in finding and implementing a viable set of revenue solutions to the HTF not only for FY 2015, but that can also be sustained for the long term,” Lewis concluded.

Senators also heard from a second panel focused on the importance of the HTF in transportation infrastructure investment. That panel consisted of Commonwealth of Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton; Jack Basso, Principal at Peter J. Basso and Associates; Kathy Ruffalo, President of Ruffalo and Associates; and Jack Schenendorf of Covington and Burling, LLP.

Connaughton discussed Virginia’s efforts in innovative financing for transportation, but stressed the importance of the federal partner in their projects.

“Our nation’s transportation infrastructure has long been a partnership between the states and the federal government. Moving forward, it is imperative that Congress maintain this partnership and take steps to ensure the ongoing viability of the HTF, while maintaining the flexibility brought about by MAP-21,” Connaughton said.

Basso agreed with Lewis’ statements, saying the federal government is vital in transportation funding across the nation.
“The federal government is a key player in partnership with the state and local governments and the private sector for advancing investment in infrastructure and a critical funder of transportation infrastructure,” Basso said. “As we approach reauthorization programs that address funding and to continue the successful financing program, such as TIFIA and so forth, is absolutely imperative to the nation’s well-being and to the improvements that can be made in our infrastructure investment and as important to maintain our international competitive position.”

Additional information on Lewis’ testimony, including a full webcast of the hearing, can be found here.


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