Higgins Introduces Nation Building Here At Home Act Of 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – May 19, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) introduced a new strategy to repair our nation’s infrastructure today, the Nation Building Here At Home Act of 2015. The bill aims to create a new grant program to rebuild our nation’s roads, bridges, transit systems, and water infrastructure.

“Investing in America’s infrastructure is critical for our competitiveness on an international stage and has immediate economic benefits,” said Congressman Higgins. “We’ve spent $150 billion to rebuild the roads and bridges of Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s time to invest in nation building here at home.”

Higgins spoke on the House Floor today about the urgent need for infrastructure investment. Below is the text to Congressman Higgins’ speech on the House Floor.

“Mr. Speaker: Infrastructure investment can be an economic game changer. In Western New York the federal highway bill funded the reconstruction of Fuhrman Boulevard, which reconnected our community with its waterfront, resulting in new private sector investment.

“From Fillmore Avenue to Ohio Street in Buffalo, Main Street in Williamsville, Robert Moses Parkway in Niagara Falls and Kenmore Avenue in Tonawanda, tens of millions of federal dollars are contributing to transformative projects in our community.

“The construction of these projects has economic benefits as well. Six-hundred-sixty-thousand jobs depend on federal road and transit investment.

“Yet today the House will extend for just two months a federal transportation program that is weak and inadequate. We can do much better.

“America needs a long term bill that provides the funding we need to create jobs and bring our infrastructure to a state of good repair.  Last week I introduced the Nation Building Here at Home Act to do just that.

“Congress should be humbled that it has allowed our infrastructure to fall into disrepair, and should use these two months to pass the long-term bill that America needs.” 

With the Federal Highway Trust Fund set to expire on May 31, 2015 and only a short-term extension on the table, the future of America’s infrastructure projects remains in question as the summer construction season begins. The deplorable status of our infrastructure investment continues to garner national attention. Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City and Mayor Mick Cornett of Oklahoma City wrote a bipartisan opinion piece in the New York Times detailing how the infrastructure crisis impacts America’s cities. This Sunday, the CBS program 60 Minutes re-aired a program originally broadcast in November 2014 about America’s neglected infrastructure.

The Nation Building Here At Home Act would establish a new grant program through the Department of Transportation to supplement pre-existing investment in infrastructure projects, such as roads, bridges, transit systems, drinking and wastewater systems, airports, ports, and waterways. Over the next 5 years, the bill would facilitate $985 billion in funding for projects, the difference between our projected level of investment and what the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) says we need.

Investment in infrastructure will yield serious economic benefits, both in the immediate future and long-term. According to the American Alliance for Manufacturing, every $1 billion in transportation infrastructure investment will create 21,000 new jobs; every $1 invested creates $3.50 in economic impact; and a long-term transportation bill worth $114 billion annually will create 2.5 million new jobs. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, our declining infrastructure costs a trillion dollars a year in lost economic growth.

To maximize benefits to the American economy and job growth, the Nation Building Here at Home Act of 2015 includes a Buy America provision, guarantees prevailing wages, promotes hiring veterans, and ensures a certain portion of grants are directed to women and minority-owned businesses.

In 2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave our nation’s infrastructure a grade of D+ on their Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. The ACSE estimates that $3.6 trillion of investment is needed to bring our infrastructure to a state of good repair. According to the 2013 report, in New York State alone over 2,100 bridges are structurally deficient and more than 4,700 – close to 30% of all New York bridges – are functionally obsolete.  The Buffalo Skyway bridge is just one local example of a structure categorized as functionally obsolete.

In the ASCE Executive Summary of the 2013 report they conclude, “For the U.S. economy to be the most competitive in the world, we need a first class infrastructure system – transport systems that move people and goods efficiently and at reasonable cost by land, water, and air; transmission systems that deliver reliable, low-cost power from a wide range of energy sources; and water systems that drive industrial processes as well as the daily functions in our homes. Yet today, our infrastructure systems are failing to keep pace with the current and expanding needs, and investment in infrastructure is faltering.  We must commit today to make our vision of the future a reality – an American infrastructure system that is the source of our prosperity.”

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