News Column

Mikulski Calls for Long-Term Solution to Transportation Infrastructure Investments Supporting Maryland Jobs

July 30, 2014



WASHINGTON, July 30 -- The office of Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., issued the following news release:

U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) this week renewed her call urging Congress to move forward with a long-term solution to extend the Highway Trust Fund, supporting our nation's transportation infrastructure and thousands of Maryland jobs.

"We must provide certainty and a guaranteed funding stream that our state departments of transportation and the construction industry desperately need," Senator Mikulski said. "Without this extension, the federal highway trust fund will go bankrupt in a matter of weeks. Enacting a long-term bill this year will provide certainty with a guaranteed funding stream, allow MDOT to plan for the future, and provide stability to the construction industry."

The Senate on Tuesday voted to pass the Highway Transportation Funding Act of 2014 as a short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund, which without Congressional action would go bankrupt in the coming weeks. The legislation includes a bipartisan amendment offered by Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), which Senator Mikulski voted to support, which extends federal transportation program authorizations through December 19, 2014 to ensure that Congress works to pass this year a long-term solution to federal transportation programs. The legislation approved by the full Senate now moves to the House of Representatives for a vote.

Her renewed call follows an op-ed published in The Baltimore Sun along with Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) advocating for a long-term transportation solution.

Senator Mikulski's statement, as submitted to the Congressional Record, follows:

"I rise in support of the Carper, Corker and Boxer amendment to the Highway Trust Fund Extension Bill before us today. This amendment will provide certainty and a guaranteed funding stream that our state departments of transportation and the construction industry desperately need. It provides a short-term extension through December 19, 2014 which will allow Congress to complete its work on a multi-year bill this year. The underlying bill only prolongs uncertainty by extending the solvency of the trust fund to May of 2015.

"In the last transportation authorization bill, I fought for a federal formula that gives the State of Maryland approximately $780 million annually from the highway trust fund: $580 million for highway funding and $200 million for transit funding. The Maryland Department of Transportation's (MDOT) average weekly expenditure of these federal funds is $10 to $12 million. Right now during construction season, MDOT is submitting reimbursements to the U.S. Department of Transportation for $20 million a week.

"Without this extension, the federal highway trust fund will go bankrupt in a matter of weeks. What does this mean for my home state of Maryland? I am advised that MDOT will not meet its commitments. The Department would be unable to begin new projects. It would be forced to focus on safety and system preservation instead of putting shovels into the ground. Existing projects will slow down or stop. The State of Maryland would have to find bond or state revenues to pay existing contracts. Most importantly, over 9,000 construction jobs will be in jeopardy.

"This is why MDOT, other state departments of transportation, and the construction industry support a multi-year bill. Enacting a long-term bill this year will provide certainty with a guaranteed funding stream, allow MDOT to plan for the future, and provide stability to the construction industry. Projects take time and thoughtful planning averaging approximately ten years to complete through construction.

"In addition, a multi-year bill will strengthen our transportation networks improving safety and reducing congestion. It also will create three million jobs and support our economy.

"I urge all my colleagues to vote for the Carper, Corker and Boxer amendment."

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