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More Evidence that a Fully Funded MAP-21 Reauthorization is Possible

Rep. Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is the second powerful congressman to state that a fully funded, five to six year reauthorization bill can be done, acknowledging that funding challenges lie ahead.
October 13, 2014, 7am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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“We have challenges in Washington trying to figure out the funding streams to make sure the Highway Trust Fund is solvent,” House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) told transportation officials in Fort Smith, Ark., on Oct 6. He was joined by Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.), a member of the Appropriations Committee, reports AASHTO Journal.

“It's my goal to pass a bill that is five to six years long,” he said, adding a bill that long would give local authorities the “kind of certainty” they need to plan infrastructure projects.

Last month on a Sunday national television talk show, House Speaker John Boehner also spoke positively about funding the transportation reauthorization bill. His time frame for completing it was "during President Obama’s final two years in office," wrote Justin Sink of The Hill.

Meanwhile, Shuster's Senate counterpart, Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, pressed for Congressional action prior to the May 31 termination of the interim (or 'patch') transportation funding bill that the Senate passed on July 31.

"We cannot afford to wait for action until the deadline which falls at the beginning of the critical summer construction season, or to kick the can down the road any longer," she wrote on Oct. 9 in a letter to Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), Chairman of Committee on Ways and Means, available in an EPW press release.

"Boxer and some Senate allies have tried to maintain pressure to act later this year in the lame duck session after the November elections," according to AASHTO Journal.

Shuster and Womack told members of the Regional Intermodal Transportation Authority of Western Arkansas that "getting a five-year Highway Trust Fund was essential to the challenge of extending Interstate 49 to U.S. 71 south of Fort Smith and a bridge across the Arkansas River at Alma," reports John Lovett of the Times-Record.

"Mat Pitsch, RITA executive director and District 76 state representative elect, pointed out that Arkansas’ half-cent sales tax helped fund a large portion of Interstate 540 construction," writes Lovett. The sales tax increase took effect July 1, 2013.

Shuster said that states like Arkansas, which have taken on a larger portion of large-scale road projects with state tax dollars, should be rewarded. 

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Published on Friday, October 10, 2014 in AASHTO Journal
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