Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood continues to sound the alarm for increased infrastructure investment.
The former Illinois congressman traveled to Georgia on Tuesday, where he told state lawmakers that “we’re in a mess in America when it comes to transportation” and urged national policymakers to come together to find a long-term funding solution for the Highway Trust Fund. There’s no time to waste, LaHood said:
I come from Illinois, and we had a brutal winter in Illinois. And Illinois, and many of the northern states, are one big pothole… every transit system is 50 years old and crumbling. The interstates are crumbling, bridges are falling down.”
Meanwhile, China is building new roads, bridges and other transit systems at a fast pace — more than 80 new airports are being constructed. “What are they doing? They’re outcompeting us and they're attracting American companies because of their infrastructure,” LaHood added.
"The highway trust fund built this country. We need that replenished to do big projects." pic.twitter.com/xOkBOiZQF7— BAFuture.org (@BAFuture) August 5, 2014
LaHood is among the 11 former transportation secretaries to join current Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to ask Congress to come up with a long-term funding plan for transportation infrastructure. While lawmakers passed a temporary fix to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent before they left for their August recess, a “much larger and longer-term” is needed, the 12 secretaries agree.
LaHood also held a press conference to urge federal infrastructure investment during his trip to Georgia. Meanwhile, Foxx is scheduled to hold a national tele-town hall on the issue at 1 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday.
A Sound Investment
Infrastructure is “the biggest economic incentive for any community or any state,” LaHood told the Georgia Joint Study Committee on Critical Transportation Infrastructure Funding. Improvements to Georgia’s infrastructure helped attract companies like State Farm and Caterpillar to the state, he noted.
Here at the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), we know infrastructure spending is a great investment for the economy. Every $1 billion in infrastructure spending creates about 20,000 jobs, after all. When Buy America provisions are included in infrastructure plans, there are even more benefits.
Of course, infrastructure investment continues to pay off once a project is completed.
In his testimony, LaHood specifically praised Georgia lawmakers for working across party lines on the ongoing effort to deepen the Port of Savannah, which will allow it to stay competitive as bigger ships begin to move through the expanded Panama Canal.
“It’s on its way to being one of the most significant ports in the country when the Panama Canal opens,” LaHood added.