Jun 29, 2020
Essential Asphalt to the Rescue
BY Sandy Lender
Roads didn’t self-repair while 60 percent of traffic stayed home during April and May. In fact, an earthquake shook a fissure across U.S. Route 95 in Western Nevada May 15 that necessitated a detour for essential traffic, taking the nation’s vital workers 20 miles out of their way between Reno and Vegas. Luckily, asphalt crews can repair that noise in under 10 hours.
And they did.
What’s positive and hopeful in the situation outlined right there is the availability of an asphalt crew with equipment and materials to do the job. That kind of availability goes out the window if Congress can’t do its job of “building and maintaining a national highway system” with reliable funding.
We all know members of Congress spend an awful lot of time bickering these days when we’d like to see them working instead. We’re not getting good messages through if these grown men and women continue to focus on how often they can remind their constituents that an “opponent” used to sell cars.
I don’t care what someone used to do.
I care what someone can and will do right now to assist in getting this nation’s economy back on track. I care what someone can and will do right now to assist in getting our infrastructure to a safe and secure grade across the board. I care what someone can and will do right now to assist in acquiring for our industry a stable and steady source of infrastructure funding so we’re not in panic mode every Sept. 30.
At the time I sat down to write this note, the House Democratic Transportation & Infrastructure Committee leadership had just introduced the Invest in America Act. This is a five-year, surface transportation reauthorization proposal, asking for $494 billion, which represents a 46 percent increase over current funding levels. That sounds tubular.
The Senate’s bipartisan five-year, surface transportation bill, called the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA), asking for $287 billion, was approved by the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee last summer. It’s still waiting on other Senate panels to get their acts together.
Here’s one of the big problems: neither of these bills explains how we’re going to pay for $287 billion or $494 billion worth of projects, even though those projects are necessary for our nation’s safety. I’m ranting about this today because we, as members of the asphalt industry, can help members of Congress move forward with funding of whatever act they ultimately put forward by contacting them. Let your representative know that, yes, you’re behind them on a surface transportation bill, but you’re also behind them on fully funding the Highway Trust Fund.
Our industry is ready and able to step in and take care of business when a natural disaster reroutes essential and emergency traffic 20 miles off a highway. Our industry is critical to a safe and functioning infrastructure and economy.
Be someone who can and will, right now, assist in getting our industry fully funded.