Washington, D.C. – Tuesday, Senator Joe Donnelly joined 78 of his Senate colleagues from both sides of the aisle to pass legislation that would extend federal highway and transit programs through December 19th, 2014. The Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 allocates additional funds to the Highway Trust Fund and reauthorizes transportation policies to ensure that crucial infrastructure projects have the necessary resources to continue. The Senate passed the legislation this evening with a vote of 79 to 18 and it now goes to the House for consideration.
Donnelly said, “Hoosiers rely on highways and roads every day, from going to work to taking their kids to school. By ensuring the Highway Trust Fund has sufficient resources for the next few months, we will help continue projects throughout Indiana and protect Hoosier jobs. Yet, it is frustrating that Congress again kicked the can down the road by passing a short-term patch when a long-term solution to address the aging infrastructure across Indiana and the country is desperately needed. This bill is a necessary first step, but Congress needs to do its job and put together a serious, long-term plan to support American highways, roads, and transit systems.”
The Highway Trust Fund was established in 1956 and now primarily funds states’ transportation projects and the federal-aid highway program, including the interstate system and primary and secondary highway systems. Congress transferred funds into the Highway Trust Fund in 2008; however, the Transportation Department has stated that reserves will reach dangerously low levels by early August.
The Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 would continue the federal-aid highway program, highway safety programs, public transportation, and hazardous materials transportation project. Without additional financing, 6,093 active highway projects in Indiana could be stopped or delayed, and that could put the 15,321 Hoosiers who work on these projects out of a job.
Infrastructure funding is incredibly important for Indiana, which has 97,065 miles of road and 18,953 bridges. Despite infrastructure’s vital role in Indiana’s economy, a report by the American Society of Civil Engineers considers 17% of major roads as in poor or mediocre condition and 22% of bridges as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Current construction projects range from road repair to new or reconstructed interchanges, which will relieve bottleneck and make commutes safer. The Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 would seamlessly continue much needed road repairs and highway upgrades in Indiana, since more than 40% of the state’s total highway and transit funding comes from the federal government.