Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) has officially endorsed a proposal by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) to substantially increase funding for bridges on the interstate highway system.
Developed in the wake of the August I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Oberstar’s plan would establish a new National Highway System Bridge Reconstruction Trust Fund, similar to the Highway Trust Fund. Oberstar has suggested that a new five-cent-per-gallon gas tax could raise $25 billion for the program over the next three years.
In a letter sent to Oberstar, AED President Toby Mack and 2007 Chairman Les Bebchick of Equipment & Systems for Industry Inc. in Hopkinton, Mass., expressed the association’s strong support for Oberstar’s proposal. Copies of the letter were delivered to all members of the House and Senate and to President Bush.
“According to TRIP, a national transportation research group, 25 percent of America’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Last month’s tragedy in Minneapolis should serve as a wake up call to our nation’s leaders and the American public that underinvestment in transportation infrastructure threatens both public safety and the nation’s economic vitality,” Mack and Bebchick said. “We cannot afford to wait any longer to start addressing the $1 trillion, 10-year infrastructure investment gap recently projected by the U.S. Chamber Foundation.”
Mack and Bebchick said that AED stands ready to work with Oberstar both to enact his bridge improvement plan and to substantially increase infrastructure investment during the upcoming reauthorization of the federal highway program.
Oberstar recently told AED senior staff that he had planned to introduce bridge trust fund legislation in early September.