No, everything is not OK

House of Reps should not link infrastructure improvements to off-shore drilling

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Bill Wilson is the editorial director of ROADS & BRIDGES magazine and has been covering the industry since 1999. He has won seven Robert F. Boger Awards for editorial excellence, including three in 2011. He also was the creator of the Top 10, Contractor's Choice Awards and Recycling Awards platforms, as well as ROADS & BRIDGES Live.

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Earlier this week I was out shooting video when an Illinois Tollway roadside assistance vehicle pulled up behind me. I was on the shoulder just doing my thing, but he wanted to make sure everything was OK. After I gave him the thumbs-up sign he waved and went on his way.

 

Sometimes I think politicians in Washington like to think they are behind the wheel of a helping hand, but rather than wait for confirmation they just drive off, as if to say, “Psych! You really thought I was going to come to your rescue?!”

 

I was anxious to hear the House of Representatives’ unveiling of a long-term highway bill on Nov. 17, but it turned out to be more hype than fact, as Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) stopped short of making an official announcement.

 

It looks like the Republican-controlled House is leaning toward the bill introduced by Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), which calls for increased off-shore drilling to provide a “dedicated source of revenue to fund infrastructure projects.”

 

The Democrats like to stroke the environment, not poke and prod it, so many in the Senate are already bashing the idea, which is not setting up a promising conference period when the two chambers of Congress get together to hammer out a real multiyear transportation bill.

 

Environmentalist groups are simply gutting the proposal, and I must say I really do not want the road and bridge market directly tied to the next massive oil spill. I can hear it now: “You see, this is what happens when you are anxious to fund road and bridge construction! You get an environmental catastrophe!!” Yeah, if you want to put your image on death row link it with the oil companies.

 

If the House indeed goes with this infrastructure/energy combo there is no way talks for a long-term highway bill will get off the ground. Heck, I would be surprised if they even begin. I’m giving this the big thumbs-down sign.

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