Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) introduced legislation that would use federal investment in transportation infrastructure to create jobs and new opportunities for millions of Americans. The American Infrastructure Investment Fund Act of 2011 would start a $5 billion fund for FY 2012 and 2013 to drive private investment in transportation infrastructure by using a variety of tools, such as loans and loan guarantees, to provide eligible projects financial assistance, thereby encouraging the private sector to do the same.
“America’s transportation infrastructure is a linchpin for economic success and global leadership,” Rockefeller said. “But in recent years, our infrastructure has deteriorated and is at a breaking point. Our roads are crumbling, our aviation system is overloaded, our passenger rail network is too slow and our maritime infrastructure is not up to the demands of global trade. Our bill offers an investment mechanism to leverage the vast amount of private capital waiting to be put to use and set a new course in order to meet America’s 21st century infrastructure needs and ultimately support American jobs and make our economy stronger.”
The National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Commission found that the annual investment required to maintain and improve the nation’s transportation infrastructure ranges between $225 and $340 billion. Leveraging federal funds to attract private capital is an effective way for the federal government to generate billions in additional investment into major transportation projects beyond what would otherwise be possible using public funds alone.
The measure also authorizes the National Infrastructure Investment Grants program within the U.S. DOT. This competitive grant program would provide funds to build new or improve existing transportation infrastructure, and will provide states increased flexibility for the types of projects they may fund with federal formula grants.