After many years of ups and downs and short-term solutions, Congress last week passed a bi-partisan fully funded transportation bill. President Obama signed the bill which is seen as a victory for newly elected speaker of the house Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
Just days before it was set to expire, Senate Democrats and Republicans were able to pass the bill by an 83-16 vote. This followed the House version of the bill which passed by a vote of 359- 65. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act is the longest term highway infrastructure bill in nearly a decade. The $305 billion five-year bill is a sigh of relief to industry leaders and associations who have been urging Congress to come up with a long-term bill.
Important to the cement industry, the bill includes a variety of provisions that were initially suggested by the cement industry. The Portland Cement Association noted that the bill includes “authorization of a federal study to analyze the impact of pavement stiffness on vehicle fuel economy, the reauthorization of the Accelerated Implementation and Deployment of Pavement Technologies (AID-PT) program, and Hours of Service (HOS) exemptions for the ready-mixed concrete industry.”
While applauded by most industry observers, some industry leaders aren’t ready to take a full victory lap.
President and CEO of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, Pete Ruane, noted in a press release that while the bill is a good move forward, it isn’t quite enough to fix America’s growing infrastructure problems. "Congress and the Obama Administration again sidestepped a golden opportunity to put the federal highway and transit investment program back on solid financial footing for the long-term. Five years goes by fast. In four years, state transportation departments will again be staring at a looming funding abyss.”
The bill is just one step towards fixing America's growing infrastructure problems, but a lot more needs to be done to provide long-term solutions.