Business groups are praising a Senate committee’s approval of a new surface transportation plan but they say it’s only the start of process they hope leads to a final measure.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously approved the two-year, $109 billion surface transportation plan on Monday, although it won’t progress until senators plug the plan’s $12 billion shortfall.
“Passage of a multi-year reauthorization bill would prevent further uncertainty in the transportation construction market, the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and the delay of billions of dollars worth of major multi-year construction projects of regional and national significance,” said Americans for Transportation Mobility, a collection of business, labor and other groups.
Like several groups, the umbrella ATM coalition praised passage of the bill without specifically endorsing its separate provisions.
The American Association of Port Authorities praised “freight focus” of the bill, essentially acknowledging the measure is likely to go through many changes before it has a chance for final enactment.
Some $85.3 billion in the bill would go directly to highway programs, and AAPA noted it addresses intermodal freight connectors and railway and highway grade separations to improve goods movement.
The National Transportation Policy Project, part of the Bipartisan Policy Center, recommended the plan adopt the performance standards and metric used in state transportation for the national level. The group also urged senators to better define national goals so the national importance of programs could be better determined.
The bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21, would replace the surface transportation authorization that would expire March 31, 2012.