Infrastructure in the News: A Major Bill Goes to Conference

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With the Surface Transportation Reauthorization & Reform Act of 2015 moving to conference committee and elections on Tuesday, news headlines have been buzzing with wishes and concerns for our nation’s infrastructure.

The House has officially approved the Surface Transportation Reauthorization & Reform Act, a six-year bipartisan bill that will provide flat-level funding. The bill must now be reconciled with the Senate’s DRIVE Act in a conference committee working toward a deadline of Nov. 20—when the current short-term extension expires. This decision has sparked many concerns that the bill only continues with the status quo rather than increasing investment to improve our infrastructure.

While there are many economic reasons for investing in infrastructure, the safety reasons are equally critical. The New York Times noted that much of our infrastructure—from dams to roads—is operating beyond its intended design life and that modernization will allow for newer design standards, while also enhancing safety.

Infrastructure safety concerns are not limited to roads, but expand to bridges, dams and railroads. The House of Representatives has adopted an amendment directing the U.S. DOT to develop a full strategy to address “structurally deficient” and “functionally obsolete” bridges within the next year.

A multi-year surface transportation bill is an important step in addressing our nation’s infrastructure needs. With that being said, flat funding won’t be enough to adequately modernize our infrastructure.

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