Tom Reed Meets with Highway, Transportation Officials for Input Ahead of Highway Construction Bill Reauthorization
Tom Reed met with area highway and transportation officials to listen to the challenges faced by our towns and villages as they make road and bridge upgrades, share suggestions for the highway bill up for reauthorization and brainstorm ideas for the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund. Highway Directors, Public Works Commissioners, City Superintendents, airport officials and other highway personnel from across the 23rd district all participated in Tuesday’s meeting in Cattaraugus County.
“With the reauthorization of a highway construction bill coming up in just a few short months, it’s important we listen to local highway directors, superintendents and everyone on the ground so that we put together a bill that is fair for those on the frontline,” Reed said. “What makes sense to bureaucrats in Washington often times does not make sense to the people who know better from their years of experience on the frontline. Because I care, we must listen to that common sense, frontline input and craft a bill that reduces bureaucratic red tape and makes it easier to protect public safety with highway improvements that are so needed.”
The highway construction bill, also known as MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act), is up for reauthorization in September 2014. The bill authorizes funds for highway safety, motor carrier safety, transit and other programs funded out of the Highway Trust Fund. Reed says the current version of the bill is a step in the right direction but he is collecting frontline input on ways to make the bill better by weeding out much of the bureaucracy that slows projects.
Reed’s focus during the meeting was prioritizing funding on local road systems and getting DC bureaucracy out of the way.
“Our rural roads and bridges are often overlooked even though in many cases, they are the ones in most need of repair,” Reed said. “Fifty percent of the structurally deficient bridges in New York State are on local road systems – it isn’t fair to neglect these areas. Another hurdle our local communities face is the bureaucratic tape they have to cut through to see any sort of progress. Too often, duplicative paperwork and redundant applications slow progress. I’m interested in streamlining the review and design phases of highway upgrades so that we can get more projects done effectively.”
Reed and the group also brainstormed ways to address the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund. Reed said he is not supportive of raising the gas tax and is instead interested in looking at creative ways to keep the trust fund from running dry.
“Although I do not support raising the gas tax at the pump for hardworking taxpayers, I am open to looking at creative new ways to ensure the fund’s long-term solvency,” Reed said. “One option on the table is using foreign-earned dollars to fund the Highway Trust Fund. That way, we aren’t raising taxes on Americans but rather, using non-American dollars to rebuild our infrastructure. To me, that is a better way to go.”
Reed also shared with the group highlights from the recent Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill passed in the House last month, including full funding for air traffic control towers.