It's not often bureaucrats, industry and legislators agree, but that seems to be what happened when the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee recommended $375 billion in highway and transit spending for the next surface transportation bill. That number aligns with what a 2002 Department of Transportation report said is needed to improve the current state of the nation's federal road transportation system.
Lest we're lulled into complacency, this is only a committee recommendation. Not only does the House have to act on it, but also the Senate must craft a bill. And then, after the two bodies agree on a final budget figure, President Bush must sign it.
This short civic lesson doesn't presume ignorance on the industry's part, but rather is an attempt to keep us focused on the issue over the next four months leading up to September's deadline for a bill reauthorizing The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21).
Our industry must act to remind legislators, the Administration and our fellow citizens that the federal responsibility for highways and transit requires adequate funding.
The first step is to become fully informed on the issue. We've put together an area at ConstructionEquipment.com that links to several resources that supply background, define the need in detail, and argue the case for funding.
Second, use this information to contact senators and representatives. Each has a vote; we must influence each of those votes. And contact our President. He must understand, too, that the federal road system is a primary responsibility of the federal government. Again, access our site for resources.
Finally, take the message beyond the industry to communities and neighborhoods with personal conversations and letters to the editor. Every citizen benefits from an efficient, safe and reliable federal highway system. Reauthorization isn't about pork spending; it's not about big business or big labor. It's about quality of life. The nation needs these dollars to improve the transportation system so we can reduce harrowing traffic congestion, enable fuel-efficient vehicles to perform, allow cost-effective transportation of goods and services, and keep our roads safe for commerce and community.
|Rod Sutton, Editor in Chief, ASBPE Regional Award Winner, 630-288-8130, firstname.lastname@example.org|