WASHINGTON -- Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx wrapped up a weeklong bus tour of the southeast Feb. 20 by telling about 100 supporters at Union Station to urge Congress to approve a highway bill before funding for infrastructure projects expires in May.
Foxx specifically asked the public to send members of Congress a “picture of a pothole they face or (of) a traffic jam” and demand a fix for the aging infrastructure in their districts.
“We cannot underestimate the urgency of this crisis,” the secretary told Transport Topics, after he addressed the crowd. “It is not the last 10-month extension. It is the 32 short-term extensions over the last six years. It’s the lack of a six-year authorization bill.”
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The secretary went on: “The cumulative weight of all of that is resulting in a slowing down of planning, a slowing down of progress on projects, and if we as a country want to see a future that we build for we’ve got to make a hard pivot towards growth, towards long-term stability and towards sending a signal to state and local government that they need to get back in the transportation business.”
Within the next few days or weeks, the Obama administration intends to unveil a six-year, $478 billion transportation plan, Foxx said. The plan, parts of which were included in a fiscal 2016 budget request sent to Congress on Feb. 2, would be an update of last year’s Grow America Act.
On Capitol Hill, transportation policy writers have yet to take up legislation that would update a 2012 law, called MAP-21, that authorizes funding for highway programs. Last summer, Congress extended the law’s authority through May 31.
During his tour, which kicked off Feb. 17, Foxx visited ports, transit projects, and freight corridors in Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia to promote the administration’s transportation plan. Last year, the secretary visited parts of the Midwest to pressure lawmakers to approve long-term funding for highway programs.