May 22 2015
Most mornings I get up early, drive to the YMCA for a workout and then drive to the train station in Wilmington to catch a train to Washington. An efficient transportation system is an essential ingredient in my day. Millions of Americans and thousands of American businesses are similarly dependent on our railways, roads, and bridges.
For decades our transportation system was the envy of the world, and helped us to become the world’s economic leader. However, much of it was built more than 50 years ago and roads, highways, bridges and transit systems across the country are in desperate need of repair. Some 60,000 bridges in America have been labeled “structurally deficient.” In Delaware, nearly 15 percent of our roads and 20 percent of our bridges require major rehabilitation, repairs or replacement.
Congress used to pass multi-year bills to plan and fund our roads, highways, bridges and transit systems, as many of these projects take years to plan, contract, permit and build. Ideally, we would pass a six-year bill, but in the past six years we have relied on dozens of short-term extensions and borrowing nearly $65 billion from the General Fund (which isn't exactly overflowing with surplus cash) to keep our transportation fund afloat. This pattern of avoiding tough decisions and simply kicking the can down the road is a wildly inefficient approach to governing. It robs governors, mayors, and business leaders of the federal funding certainty they need to plan for long-term investments in our transportation system.
Earlier this week in Delaware, Senator Coons and I joined representatives from labor, business, transit, cyclists and more to discuss the critical need to fund projects that move people and goods across the First State and the country. This diverse group of transportation stakeholders was united in its call for certainty and we heard them loud and clear.
I will continue to push my colleagues in Congress to find a common-sense way to fully fund a long-term transportation bill this summer. If we work together, I know we can build the 21st century American transportation system we need in order to continue our economic recovery and compete in the global marketplace.