Wyoming Officials Speak Up for Rural Infrastructure Funding

February 9, 2017
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee convened a hearing on Wednesday to get input from transportation leaders from rural regions as lawmakers and the new administration assemble an infrastructure package. 
“Funding solutions that involve public-private partnerships, as have been discussed by administration officials, may be innovative solutions for crumbling inner cities, but do not work for rural areas,” Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said.
Bill Panos, the Director of the Wyoming Department of Transportation, also made the trip to Capitol Hill to testify on Wednesday. Panos said Wyoming’s infrastructure requires specific solutions from the federal government. "We have a great surface transportation system in Wyoming, it’s just that some of the federal proposals that are being developed now may not be applicable to rural states," said Panos.

Panos told the committee that direct federal investment is the best way to keep infrastructure sound because a private-public partnership is simply not realistic or effective in a state like Wyoming."They require a revenue stream and because of our low population, because of the nature of our surface transportation system, it just doesn’t lend itself well," said Panos. He emphasized that he doesn’t oppose public-private partnership but warned that even if the deals are supplemented by federal tax credits, private investors won’t be attracted to rural projects. They "are not enough," he said.

As reported on TheHill.com, panelists advocated for a diverse set of funding tools in an infrastructure bill. They also called on lawmakers to stabilize the Highway Trust Fund; strengthen formula programs; and ensure regulations take rural and urban differences into account. 

Video: Wyoming Director of Transportation asks Senate committee for rural-specific solutions to infrastructure issues