Senator Collins Chairs Hearing on Improving the Nation’s Infrastructure

Maine DOT Commissioner Dave Bernhardt testified at Senator Collins’ invitation

Washington, D.C. — Deficient roads are costing motorists in Maine $1 billion annually in vehicle damage, congestion delays, and traffic crashes. In Portland, these costs can exceed $1,000 per motorist.

The need to make additional investments in our transportation network was the subject of a Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee hearing led by Chairman U.S. Senator Susan Collins today titled, “Investing in America: Funding our Nation’s Transportation Infrastructure Needs.” At Senator Collins’ invitation, David Bernhardt, the Commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation and the President of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, testified.

“Working with the new administration, we in Congress have a great deal of work to do in developing an infrastructure package to promote economic development, improve the transport of people and products, and create jobs,” said Chairman Collins. “The challenge that we face is finding a way to pay for the much-needed infrastructure spending without increasing taxes on those who are least able to afford them or using budget gimmicks that simply lead to more deficit spending and add to our nation’s ever-growing debt.”

“Transportation matters more today than ever before, not only in Maine, but throughout our country and across the world,” said Commissioner Bernhardt. “Families and businesses depend on a strong transportation infrastructure to keep our state competitive. Smart investment in the maintenance and upgrade of this infrastructure is critical to sustaining a vibrant Maine economy and connecting us to a global economy.”

Deficient infrastructure harms the economy and costs American consumers billions of dollars each year. During the hearing, witnesses discussed new and innovative methods to finance much-needed transportation projects, such as vehicle-miles-travelled user fees, passenger facility charges, public-private partnerships, tolling, and expansion of the TIFIA loan program.

America currently faces a backlog of $836 billion in unmet needs for our nation’s highways and bridges, and $100 billion is needed for airport infrastructure projects over the next five years. While some progress has been made to reduce the percentage of bridges that are structurally deficient and functionally obsolete, the percentage of highways rated as “poor” quality has increased, particularly in rural areas.

Witnesses at today’s hearing included:

  • Dave Bernhardt, Commissioner, Maine DOT, and President of AASHTO;
  • Jim Tymon, Chief Operating Office of AASHTO;
  • Todd Hauptli, President and CEO of AAAE;
  • Ed Mortimer, Executive Director of Transportation at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and
  • Beth Osborne, Director of Technical Assistance for Transportation of America (T4A)