EPW senators introduce Infrastructure Improvement Act

News AASHTO Journal March 29, 2006
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U.S. Senators George Voinovich (R-OH), Thomas Carper (D-DE) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) introduced the National Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2006 last week, legislation created to address deteriorating conditions of our nation’s roads, bridges, drinking-water systems, dams and other public works.

According to Voinovich’s office, the bill will establish a National Commission on Infrastructure of the U.S. The commission will be charged with aiding in the nation’s economic growth and ensuring the ability of the nation’s infrastructure to meet current and future demands.

Voinovich, Carper and Clinton cited the damage from Hurricane Katrina, the deteriorated of the nation’s waterways, the needs of surface transportation—specifically the National Highway System—waterworks, flood controls and their impacts on the nation’s present and future economy.

The three senators all sit on the Environmental and Public Works Committee. The legislation has the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National Association of Counties.

“Our nation’s economic strength throughout history has been inexorably linked to the investments made in our public infrastructure. From the Transcontinental Railroad to the National Highway System, the public’s sector investments in our roads, our waterways, our railways and our aviation systems have defined the bedrock strengths of the American economy and its people,” Clinton stated.

Voinovich added that the backlog of unfunded Army Corps of Engineers operation and maintenance projects mandated by Congress is $1.2 billion. That is up from $250 million when he arrived in the Senate in 1999.

In addition to the national commission, the bill would: Call for the completion of a study by February 2009 that will address all matters relating to the state of the nation’s infrastructure; development of recommendations for a federal plan outlining infrastructure priorities; and require a report to Congress by February 2009 detailing infrastructure legislation deemed necessary for the next five, 15, 30 and 50 years.

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