Letter Supporting H.R. 3074, the "Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008"
September 11, 2007
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region, urges you to support H.R. 3074, the "Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008." This bill provides funding for the maintenance and improvements necessary to ensure that the nation's transportation system is the safest and most efficient in the world.
The I 35-Wbridge collapse has been a painful reminder of the importance of robust and carefully planned investment in transportation infrastructure. The United States cannot wait for its infrastructure problems to further mount. Currently, one third of the country's major roads are in poor condition, which is a factor in an estimated 30% of traffic fatalities; the transit system suffers from enormous maintenance and improvement needs, the Federal Transit Administration estimates that $20.6 billion is needed annually to improve the nation's transit systems to "good;" the antiquated air traffic control system is a contributing factor in one third of all U.S. flights being cancelled or delayed in July this year; and ports are straining under the weight of cargo volumes that are doubling or tripling.
The business community depends on a safe and reliable transportation system to remain competitive and efficient. The transportation system is the foundation of the U.S. economy and if the U.S. does not make the investments necessary to maintain it, the economy will suffer.
H.R. 3074 addresses the enormous demands on the transportation infrastructure system by providing funding for highway and transit programs authorized by Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). H.R. 3074 also provides funding for the Federal Aviation Administration to improve the safety, performance and capacity of the nation's aviation system. The Chamber continues to support full funding of SAFETEA-LU, and is disappointed that H.R. 3074 under-funds public transportation by $134 million. It would freeze funding for new rail and fixed guideway transit projects under the New Starts/Small Starts program at the FY2007 level, $134 million short of the authorized amount. The Chamber encourages Congress to make the New Starts/Small Starts program whole before final passage.
Investment in the transportation system is investment Americans' way of life. These resources will be used for critical transportation improvements across the country that will strengthen the nation's economy and improve the quality of life for all Americans. For these reasons, the Chamber urges you to support the H.R. 3074 and may consider using votes on, or in relation to, these issues in our annual How They Voted scorecard.
R. Bruce Josten