Chairman of the House’s Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, Congressman Jim Oberstar plans to introduce what he calls, “the largest transportation investment package since the creation of the Interstate Highway system in the 1950s.”
As has been widely reported, it is anticipated that Congress will pass economic recovery legislation aimed at such projects as highway and bridge construction, transit and passenger rail projects, among other public works efforts. Oberstar recommends that the transportation portion of the bill be aimed at projects ready for work to begin, but lack the funding. He claims, “We want to put people to work within 120 days of the passage of this bill. To be effective, this bill needs to be transparent and accountable to the taxpayer. The economic recovery package needs to be earmark-proof, with no specially-designated projects.”
Longer term, the current SAFETEA-LU (the Safe, Accountable, Fair and Efficient Transportation Equity Act—A Legacy for Users) is due to be renewed in September 2009. Oberstar vows to make it a “transformational transportation bill.” He looks to create investments in, “new modes of transportation to move people and products. Everything from shipping in the Great Lakes to high-speed rail will be on the table,” he claims.