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January 15, 2021 2:15 PM, EST

Transportation Stakeholders Urge Infrastructure Plan Passage by July 4

Pothole on a road in Louisville, Ky.A pothole on a road in Louisville, Ky. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

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By July 4, Congress should pass comprehensive legislation that rehabilitates highway programs, modernizes freight corridors and tackles climate change concerns, nearly 200 stakeholders said in a message to federal lawmakers.

Led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington-based think tank, the coalition points to the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the economy and a growing threat from climate change as reasons for action on a massive infrastructure package.

The political dynamics in Washington present a potential path forward when it comes to a big-ticket infrastructure plan. Democrats commence the new session of Congress in control of the House and Senate. The incoming administration also will be managed by Democrats in the White House.

Donohue

U.S. Chamber CEO Tom Donohue, an ardent proponent of funding increases for the country’s mobility grid, observed Jan. 14: “Rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure is not only one of the fastest and most direct ways to create new jobs and spur economic growth now, but also it will sustain our modern economy for the long-term.”

“The coalition members may not agree on every issue or detail, but we understand the importance of working together for the greater good of the American people. We strongly urge policymakers to do the same and enact a fiscally and environmentally responsible infrastructure package as one of their first priorities,” added Donohue. This month, during his annual address on the status of the country’s business environment, Donohue affirmed the chamber’s support for President-elect Joe Biden’s and his administration’s position on infrastructure projects, as well as climate change.

Jason Grumet

Grumet

Jason Grumet, the Bipartisan Policy Center’s president, looked at potential benefits sound infrastructure would bring to the country, noting, “National infrastructure investment is the best idea that never happens.”

“Congress must seize this opportunity to jump-start our economy, repair aging systems and advance the modern technologies needed to confront climate change,” he said.

Specifically, the coalition is urging approval of transformative policy and funding legislation prior to the July 4 holiday that is designed to fix and upgrade crumbling roads, bridges, tunnels, railways, ports and canals. The package also must expand access to broadband, primarily across rural towns. It should boost the economy through job creation, advance provisions linked to climate change and promote myriad environmental policies, such as renewable-energy programs.

Additionally, the measure should enhance the federal project approval process, and facilitate access to digital and technological advancements, such as electric and autonomous vehicles.

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Coalition members include the American Land Title Association, American Nuclear Society, American Public Transportation Association, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Water Works Association, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Third Way, Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin, the American Gas Association and Transportation Intermediaries Association.

“Our nation must launch a massive investment program in transportation, energy, water and communications technologies,” indicated the coalition. “Doing so will repair our crumbling roads, bridges, and transit and the current gridlock in our major economic hubs that harm our productivity, global competitiveness and quality of life. It will propel public and private efforts to decarbonize our economy in a meaningful way, and close the digital divide by expanding broadband and internet access.”

RELATED: Pete Buttigieg Eyes ‘Big, Bold’ Infrastructure Plan, Chuck Schumer Says

Biden suggested the possibility for his team to unveil an infrastructure plan in the coming weeks. Congressional leaders have yet to announce a schedule for considering transportation and infrastructure policy measures.

The American Society of Civil Engineers issued the country’s overall infrastructure a grade of D+.

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