The meeting participants discussed a variety of transportation priorities, including federal transportation funding. The Highway Trust Fund, which provides money to states for construction on highways, bridges, and other projects, and its legal authorization are both scheduled to expire at the end of this month. At the meeting, Garamendi also focused on two additional issues important to the 3rd Congressional District: the unresolved safety risk of volatility in crude-by-rail transportation and the need for a comprehensive strategy to expand broadband access.
“The whole Sacramento region agrees that we don’t just need a long-term transportation bill. We need a bill that fully funds the repair and modernization of our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, which would dramatically accelerate job growth and business expansion. That’s why I co-sponsored the GROW AMERICA Act, which provides $478 billion of transportation funding. That represents increase of $150 billion over what we currently spend, with the difference funded by closing tax loopholes that allow corporations to shelter profits overseas,” said Congressman Garamendi, who served as President Clinton’s Deputy Secretary of the Interior. “GROW AMERICA would provide reassurance to contractors and local governments by providing six years of increased investment in all our transit systems, as well as promoting deployment of vital broadband access to underserved areas..”
“I also stressed the need for further action on crude oil-by-rail safety, specifically the need for a strong uniform volatility standard across the nation. These trains travel through my district near homes, schools, and businesses, and we can do much more to prevent dangerous explosions,” Garamendi added. “Finally, I encouraged Secretary Foxx to continue the Administration’s leadership on broadband. We need to implement a comprehensive nationwide strategy that takes advantage of new and ongoing projects that can serve dual uses, like piping, electrical work, and resurfacing. I thank Secretary Foxx for listening to the voices of the Sacramento region and taking them back to Washington.”
Congressman Garamendi and Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), the Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, are the co-authors of H.R. 2379, which would prohibit the transport of crude oil with a Reid vapor pressure level greater than 8.5 psi across state lines. This standard would make deadly explosions due to accidents much less likely.
“Our nation’s infrastructure has long been the backbone of our economy, but we’ve been underinvesting in it for far too long,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx. “In 2045, there will be 30 million more people living in the United States, and our current system is not prepared for that growth. That’s why earlier this year, the Administration put forth the GROW AMERICA Act, a six-year transportation proposal that provides increased and stable investment in our nation’s roads, bridges, transit, and rail systems; this bill will not only bring our system to a state of good repair, it will prepare us for our future. It’s time that Congress act to address America’s critical needs.”
“Updating our roads, bridges, and highways is not only important to keeping Sacramento County families safe, but it’s also vital to our local economy,” said Congressman Bera. “That’s why we need a fiscally responsible and long-term transportation bill that will allow us to update our infrastructure, and we can’t let partisan politics get in the way.”
“We are delighted that Secretary Foxx chose the Sacramento region for a stop in California,” said SACOG Board Chair Don Saylor, a Yolo County Supervisor. “The six county and 22 city SACOG region has worked together to invest federal transportation dollars in the highest performing and most strategic projects that benefit the region near- and long-term. Our region’s Metropolitan Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy is a model for the country. We have used the best tools and analysis to build transportation infrastructure projects that support all modes of transportation and the diverse lifestyles of our residents.”
Our roads and bridges are in dire need of improvement. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, nearly 7,000 bridges in California are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Nearly 70 percent of our state’s roads are in poor or mediocre condition.
If Congress does not come up with a solution before funding expires at the end of July, new transportation projects across the country would be stopped in their tracks, holding back publicly-supported projects and jeopardizing thousands of jobs.