Kuster to House Leadership: Pass a Long-Term Surface Transportation Bill Now
Kuster’s letter comes after hearing of funding delays for Loudon Road project in Concord and other projects across New Hampshire
Concord, N.H., May 6, 2015
In a letter to House leadership today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) urged support for a long-term surface transportation bill that would provide certainty for infrastructure projects in New Hampshire and across the country. A project to narrow Loudon Road in Concord in order to improve safety on the busy corridor will be delayed because the promised federal funding has not come through. In the last decade, Congress has passed ten short-term extensions of highway and transit programs, leading to uncertainty for local transportation departments and impeding economic growth around the nation. In the letter she sent today, Kuster calls on House leadership to pass a multi-year surface transportation bill that would allow important projects across the country to move forward, including the Loudon Road project and the Sewalls Falls Bridge replacement.
“A robust transportation infrastructure is critical for our state and country to compete in the 21st century global economy and to protect the safety of our citizens,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “With projects like the Loudon Road reconstruction being delayed indefinitely, Congress must end the cycle of short-term extensions of highway and transit programs and pass a multi-year, long-term bill. A long-term bill will allow us to fix our failing roads and bridges, create reliable construction jobs for our workers, and help our economy grow, and I urge House Leadership to bring this bill to the floor now.”
Construction on the project to narrow Loudon Road from four lanes to three was set to start this spring, with $1.44 million in federal grants covering 90 percent of the cost. The NH Department of Transportation has only received two-thirds of the overall $9 million it typically receives each year from the federal Department of Transportation for these local projects, so the project has been delayed indefinitely.
In 2012, Congress passed the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) to fund our country’s surface transportation network for two years only, and it has since been extended one year beyond its original 2014 expiration. The last true long-term transportation bill, passed in 2005, was extended nine times before the enactment of another shorter-term funding bill, MAP-21. Short-term extensions do not provide the certainty local departments of transportation need when planning and undertaking significant, often long-term construction projects, and these projects and the construction jobs that go along with them are jeopardized by each threat of a funding lapse. If Congress fails to act, MAP-21 will expire at the end of May.
Congresswoman Kuster has long advocated for increased federal investment in New Hampshire’s transportation infrastructure. Last year when short-term funding threatened to run out, Kuster introduced the DRIVE Now Act, legislation that would have replenished the Highway Trust fund through the summer construction season to allow Congress time to pass a full, six-year reauthorization of the Highway Trust Fund and other Surface Reauthorization programs. She has also toured the I-93 construction project in Windham and the Route 10 bridge replacement project in Winchester, two projects that could have been threatened by lack of transportation funding, to highlight the urgent need to pass responsible funding legislation.
The text of the letter sent by Kuster is here and below:
Dear Mr. Speaker and Madam Leader:
A little over one year ago, I wrote to you expressing concern about funding for the Highway Trust Fund and encouraging you to work to pass a long-term reauthorization of federal surface transportation programs. In that letter, I discussed how the uncertainty in funding was threatening jobs and jeopardizing public safety in my district and across our nation.
I’m dismayed to be writing you again, one year later, to ask the same thing.
Authorization for federal surface transportation programs will expire at the end of this month, which happens to be right in the middle of the construction season and right when states have to determine whether projects will be funded for this year. Unfortunately, Congress’ continued inaction and inability to pass a long-term reauthorization of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) is again delaying critical projects in my district.
Businesses across New Hampshire continue to tell me that one of the most important things we can do to help them thrive is to provide a safe and robust transportation network. A transportation network that quickly moves goods to the market and people to their jobs is the key to a strong and economically secure middle class, and support from federal surface transportation programs makes this possible.
But just this week I learned that more projects in New Hampshire are being put on hold due to the looming expiration of MAP-21 and uncertainty about federal funding. In particular, two of the projects that may be shelved this year are crucial to protecting public safety: a traffic safety corridor improvement in New Hampshire’s state capital and work on the replacement of a critical bridge linking towns across the Merrimack River. We simply cannot afford to let these projects, and many other across our nation, be delayed any further.
I once again urge you to work with committee leaders in the House and Senate, both Republicans and Democrats, to pass a common sense, long-term reauthorization of our surface transportation programs before the clock runs out in 25 days. Too much is at stake and we simply cannot kick the can down the road any more.
Ann McLane Kuster