T&I Hearing Highlights Importance of Addressing Current & Future Needs of America’s Infrastructure
Today’s first hearing in the 116th Congress of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee highlighted the importance of finding solutions to America’s infrastructure needs; solutions that include the safe integration of innovative technologies and reducing the length of the project delivery process.
“We all know that we have significant infrastructure needs, and we have to continue rebuilding and improving our infrastructure network – roads, bridges, ports, waterways, transit, railways, airports, and water infrastructure. But we also have to realize, as we work to meet our needs for the long-term, that we have to think outside the box,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) said after today’s hearing. “We’ve got to take a transformative approach when it comes to our infrastructure. Our economy depends on it. I hope that Congress and the Administration will work together to address our infrastructure needs, and that includes finding a forward-looking fix for the Highway Trust Fund and reducing the time involved in the project delivery process.
“Technology also needs to be a central part of improving our infrastructure for the future. Integrating innovative technologies can not only make our infrastructure safer and more efficient, it can reduce costs, alleviate congestion, and address environmental impacts,” Graves added. “I appreciate that our panel today, including our state and local government witnesses, stressed the importance of encouraging innovation, providing the flexibility to more nimbly respond to developments in technology, and streamlining the project delivery process wherever possible.”
During today’s hearing, Eric Fanning, President and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, discussed the potential for developing aviation technologies – such as Urban Air Mobility (UAM), drones, commercial space transportation, and supersonic flight – to help address our infrastructure needs, reduce congestion, and increase the efficiency and capacity of the transportation system, without necessarily involving significant infrastructure costs. Excerpts from Fanning’s testimony:
Kristin Meira, Executive Director of the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association, pointed out the benefits of streamlining the project delivery process to U.S. ports, like the Port of Seattle. She highlighted Army Corps of Engineers reforms enacted under the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014, which set hard deadlines on the time and costs of project studies (known as the 3x3x3 process). From Meira’s testimony:
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, representing the National Governors Association, highlighted governors’ support for incorporating technology as well as streamlining:
Rich McArdle, President of UPS Freight, discussed the importance of technology to e-commerce:
Larry Willis, President, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, referred to how technology could also play a role in how we fund the Highway Trust Fund in the future, given the challenges with the current user fees:
For more information from today’s hearing, click here.
More details about the dialogue between witnesses and Committee Members today can be found on the @TransportGOP Twitter feed.
Photos from today’s hearing are at the Committee Republicans’ flickr feed.