House Transportation Committee to Mark Up Widely-Anticipated Highway Bill, Including Provisions Sought by Congressman Garret Graves
Washington, DC – Congressman Garret Graves (R – South Louisiana) issued the following statement as the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee prepares to mark up the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015, a multi-year surface transportation reauthorization bill designed to increase funding and provide improvements to infrastructure projects across the country:
“It’s past time to get moving on a comprehensive plan to address the infrastructure needs across our region and the entire country. This highway bill reflects the national discussion on federal transportation policy, and we want to ensure it also reflects our local priorities.” said Graves. "Our capital region has some of the worst traffic in the nation. There is no silver bullet solution, but this bill puts us on a path to begin addressing some of the short, mid and long-term solutions we've been pushing."
Specifically, the bill includes a grant program of over $700 million annually to address nationally-significant freight and highway projects -- like the I-10 corridor in East and West Baton Rouge and Ascension, I-12 in Livingston Parish and critical improvements associated with Louisiana Highway 1.
Graves advocated for other initiatives in the bill including $100 million annually in grants for Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and one of his top priorities, a $75 million a year grant program to deploy advanced traffic technologies such as the interface of phone-based mapping and GPS technologies with traffic light operations.
Graves continued: “There is no question that building a new bridge across the Mississippi River, LA-30/Nicholson Drive improvements between downtown Baton Rouge and Gonzales, a Westbank Expressway, connecting Walker with Gonzales, a commuter rail line and other priorities are all needed, but we concurrently need to start working on short-term solutions like better utilization of some of our surface streets with improved technologies. The fact that we are using 1950s traffic light technology in 2015 is crazy.
We are the only state in the nation with six class one rail lines, five of the top ports in the nation, and six interstates. The integration of these different modes of transportation is critical to the continued top role of Louisiana as one of the nation's top export states. The bill also includes provisions to help with the flow of commerce between various modes of transportation -- helping to ensure Louisiana maintains our top role in global commerce.
LA 1 is America’s Energy Corridor. Manufacturing on the Mississippi River demands efficient transportation if Louisiana and America expect more job creation. Hosting Chairman Shuster in Louisiana has helped nurture his and the Committee’s appreciation of South Louisiana’s dynamic transportation infrastructure and its effect on our national economy, and you can see that through some of the bill’s provisions, like the inclusion of our language to maintain investments in conservation and coastal restoration efforts that are tied to regional resiliency.”
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will meet on October 22nd to debate and amend the proposed legislation. As a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Congressman Graves sits on the Highways and Transit, the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation and the Water Resources subcommittees.