IRF represents road industry at Senate Democratic Steering Committee
International Road Federation-Washington (IRF-Washington) CEO & Director General Patrick Sankey participated in the Senate Democratic Steering Committee session on Infrastructure Investment held on July 30. Sankey joined a group of industry leaders, senators and governors during the 60 minute discussion. The meeting was chaired by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Steering and Outreach Committee Chair.
The Committee was convened to discuss the infrastructure financing mechanisms of the United States. These mechanisms do not adequately address infrastructure projects of regional or national significance, encourage an appropriate pooling of Federal, State, local, and private resources, or provide transparency to ensure the optimal return on public resources. There are no Federal financing notes, credits, or bonds which allow investors to fund only infrastructure projects.
Governor Rendell (D-Pa.) noted the staggering $1.6 trillion needed to repair Americaâ€™s roads and bridges. It was also noted that the Federal Highway Administration has indicated that 33 percent of all urban and rural roads in the United States are in poor, mediocre, or fair condition and approximately $131.7 billion must be expended each year for the next 20 years to improve the conditions of those urban and rural roads. Furthermore, 27.1 percent of all bridges in the United States are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and approximately $9.4 billion must be expended each year over the next 20 years to eliminate these problems.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), called for progressive solutions to the increasingly complicated problem.
One solution brought up for discussion was Sen. Chris Doddâ€™s (D-Conn.) infrastructure bank. If enacted, this bill would establish an independent National Infrastructure Bank to accomplish the following: (1) designate qualified transit, public housing, water, highway, bridge, or road infrastructure projects for loans, loan guarantees, and other financial assistance; and (2) issue general purpose and project-based infrastructure bonds exempt from state and local taxation.
A 5-member Board of Directors would be created to manage the Infrastructure Bank, at least one of whom has experience in transit infrastructure, public housing infrastructure, road and bridge infrastructure, water infrastructure, or public finance. This Board would have authority to conduct hearings and subpoena witnesses.
The National Infrastructure Bank would evaluate and rate each applicant seeking funding for an infrastructure project according to a set of standards including, but not limited to: regional or national significance; promotion of economic growth; environmental benefits; urban land use policies; and mobility improvements. In order to qualify, a project would have to warrant a federal share of the cost of no less than $75 million.
As discussions continued, Sen. Stabenow called on Sankey in order to give the committee the road perspective on these issues.
â€œWhile the Infrastructure Bank, at first glance, has merit, it cannot be the only solution,â€ said Sankey. â€œIt is clear the Highway Trust Fund must be increased, but additional methods of funding will be required to fix this problem. Bonds, user fees such as toll roads and congestion tolling, and public private partnerships are just a few of the measures U.S. counterparts across the globe are using to meet their infrastructure investment needs.â€
Sankey also called for increased investment to address road safety.
â€œSince 2,000, an average of 43,000 people are dying in traffic related accidents in the United States. Around the world, more than 1.2 million die each year. That is the equivalent of 7 747 planes crashing everyday and killing every passenger on board.â€
Sankey closed by encouraging multiple, creative solutions thereby giving us the best chances for success.
- Phil Angelides
Chairman, Apollo Alliance
- Mark Ayers
President, Building and Construction Trades Council (AFL-CIO)
- Eric Coleman
President, National Association of Counties
- Bruce Dâ€™Agostino
President and CEO, Construction Management Association of America
- Robert Ficano
Wayne County Executive (Detroit, MI)
- Warren George
International President, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU)
- Steve Heminger
Director, Metropolitan Transportation Commission (Bay Area)
- Patrick Jones
CEO, International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association
- Alexander Kummant
- William Millar
President, American Public Transportation Association
- Martin Oâ€™Malley
Governor of Maryland
- Shelley Poticha
President and CEO, Reconnecting America
- Michael Regan
Chairman, American Society of Transportation and Logistics
- Ed Rendell
Governor of Pennsylvania
- Matt Rose
CEO, BNSF Corporation
- John Rowell
President, Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations
- Stephen Sandherr
CEO, Association General Contractors of America
- Patrick Sankey
Director, International Road Federation
- Tom Skancke
President, The Skancke Company
- Jacob Snow
Gen. Manager, Regional Transportation Commission of Southern NV
- Kirk Steudle
Director, Michigan Department of Transportation
- Tracy Wolstencroft
Global Director of Public Sector and Infrastructure, Goldman-Sachs
- Jeff Bingaman, New Mexico
- Barbara Boxer, California
- Benjamin Cardin, Maryland
- Thomas Carper, Delaware
- Robert Casey, Pennsylvania
- Christopher Dodd, Connecticut
- Byron Dorgan, North Dakota
- Dick Durbin, Illinois
- John Kerry, Massachusetts
- Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota
- Frank Lautenberg, New Jersey
- Blanche Lincoln, Arkansas
- Barbara Mikulski, Maryland
- Patty Murray, Washington
- Harry Reid, Nevada
- Bernie Sanders, Vermont
- Debbie Stabenow, Michigan
- Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island