While James Oberstar (D-MN) has publicly criticized the Obama Administration's call for stop-gap highway funding and an 18-month delay in moving the Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has received an endorsement for his bill from the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA). "Congressman Oberstar's proposed bill addresses goods movement challenges in ways that would help alleviate freight congestion on America's roads, rails and waterways, and that's a crucial step in propelling the country's long-term prosperity, security and environmental well-being," said Kurt Nagle, AAPA's president and CEO.
The Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009 would give priority status to freight and freight mobility as part of the federal surface transportation reauthorization legislation that would replace the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) bill, which was passed in 2005 and is set to expire at the end of September, Nagle continued.
"Seaports can play a critical role in our national economic recovery, but they need higher levels of federal investment in connecting infrastructure to create jobs, alleviate congestion and deliver prosperity,” said Nagle. “Language in this bill goes a long way toward achieving that goal."
Among the significant points the AAPA sees in the bill is a policy position that would establish an Office of Intermodalism in the Office of the Secretary of Transportation. He also complimented the bill's support for Projects of National Significance; and a Freight Improvement Program, which provides state formula grant funding specifically targeted to freight and goods movement projects. AAPA also supports the bill's proposed measures directed at improving project delivery by eliminating duplication in documentation in procedures during the environmental review process and project design and build.
The proposed bill provides $450 billion in funding over six years, including $337.4 billion for highway construction investment and $25 billion for Projects of National Significance, noted AAPA.