AASHTO Journal, 15 November 2013
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) announced Thursday a bipartisan plan to spur transportation infrastructure investment, hoping to tackle more transportation projects that will strengthen the economy and create a better quality of life for the American public.
Sens. Warner and Blunt and their colleagues introduced the BRIDGE Act, which would create an “independent, nonpartisan financing authority” to accompany current transportation funding. That financing authority would set up a $10 billion infrastructure bank. The authority would use the funding to provide loans and loan guarantees to help states and localities fund “the most economically viable road, bridge, rail, port, water, sewer, and other significant infrastructure projects.”
“The BRIDGE Act is not a ‘silver bullet’ to magically close America’s infrastructure gap, but this bipartisan proposal creates smart new tools to help our states and localities unlock billions of dollars in additional private investments at a time of very favorable interest rates,” Warner said in a statement. “The BRIDGE Act will not only put Virginians and Americans back to work but also help to expand U.S. commerce and trade, keeping American businesses competitive and creating even more jobs here at home. The BRIDGE Act demonstrates our willingness to work together in a responsible, bipartisan way to get moving on important investment priorities.”
To qualify under the BRIDGE Act, projects would need to cost at least $50 million and be of either national or regional significance. However, 5 percent of the new authority’s funding would be specifically dedicated to rural projects (which would need to be only $10 million in size). In addition, the proposed measure stipulates that the authority could finance only up to 49 percent of total project costs “in order to avoid crowding out private capital.”
“Infrastructure has long been an integral part of our economy. Successful transportation systems connect people and communities, and businesses large and small, and the jobs they create, rely on a strong infrastructure network to connect with their customers,” Blunt said. “This bipartisan legislation will provide a new tool to help finance infrastructure projects, create jobs, and ensure America’s global competitiveness in the 21st century.”
A summary on the BRIDGE Act is available here.