Why Road Builders Want a Transportation Bill Now

tea_21_extensions.jpgWhy do construction companies want a transportation bill now? Look in the blue circle. (Photo: ARTBA)

The clash between the Obama administration and senior House Democrats over passing a new federal transportation bill can be viewed on a number of levels: as an commentary on the lack of political will to tackle infrastructure, as proof that Washington is finally serious about climate change, and certainly as a spur to find new revenue sources.

But what about the economic recovery level — that, as Roll Call reported today, the transportation bill "could arguably be called a [second] stimulus"? Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-OR), transport committee chairman Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN), and other lawmakers also have invoked this contention in their push to change the White House’s mind on a new bill.

It’s an argument that aligns with the road materials, design, and construction companies belonging to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA). The ARTBA is mobilizing its members behind Oberstar’s call for quick passage of the House transportation measure, and the chart above explains why.

The Bush administration had to pass a dozen extensions of the previous federal transportation law (TEA-21) before the most recent bill, also known as SAFETEA-LU, limped across the finish line.

Those short-term extensions put new transit projects in limbo but also forced states and localities to stall planned highway projects, leading to three years of fairly static construction spending.

If static highway construction spending sounds like a good thing, consider that transit is also affected by the uncertainty of short-term extensions such as those resorted to between 2003 and 2005. Which is why one thing that most people in on the Hill agree on, whether they’re transit fans or road boosters, is the need to ensure that the administration’s 18-month extension is the very last time the old bill is re-upped.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Transport Construction Industry Mobilizes for Oberstar’s Bill

|
Acrimonious opposition to health care reform has become the biggest political story of an otherwise sleepy August, but that doesn’t mean grassroots lobbying on the House’s transportation bill has evaporated. (Image: ARTBA) The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), which represents major construction companies, released a bulletin to members today urging them to connect […]

Senate Starts Work on New Transport Bill, With House Version as a Guide

|
The Senate today took its first steps towards voting on a new long-term federal transportation bill, with environment committee chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) vowing to take up a successor to the 2005 infrastructure law before 2011 and indicating she would use the House’s already-introduced version as a framework. Senate environment committee chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA), […]

Highway Builders to Party Leaders: The Future Is “More Than Just Roadways”

|
Over the past two weeks, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association has sent letters to the Republican National Committee [PDF] and the Democratic National Committee [PDF], asking them to consider inserting a plank in their platforms about transportation. And they were clear in their letter that, despite being major cheerleaders for road-building, the future they see […]