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Legislative Update

 

The Road to the Federal Surface Transportation Bill

Office of Congressman Ryan Costello (PA-06) 

 

After days of debate and almost 300 amendments filed, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a long-term surface transportation bill for the first time in 10 years. The final vote was 363-64. 

The Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform (STRR) Act is a long-term federal commitment to invest, upgrade, and improve our transportation system. Not only will this improve our highways and bridges, but it will serve as a much needed catalyst for local economic growth.  The sooner we get to work improving our local roads, the sooner our businesses will be able to ship and receive goods faster and at lower costs - and the sooner families will be able to save money on car repairs and spend less time in traffic.

The final bill included an amendment I was pleased to offer, which expands eligibility for smaller Pennsylvania bridges and highway crossings to receive federal grant funding. In 2014 alone, Pennsylvania had 71 vehicle collisions at grade crossings, resulting in 7 deaths and 25 injuries. My amendment offered a simple solution to improve the safety at these roadway crossings – without increasing the cost to taxpayers of this program. During the debate of the bill, I spoke on the House floor in support of my amendment. 

Additionally, I championed a provision that would expand transportation options for commuters by encouraging greater coordination with employers and the private sector without imposing new mandates or increasing the Federal deficit.

Passage of a long-term highway bill has been a priority of mine since Day One and I am pleased it has advanced out of the House. This legislation now heads to a Conference Committee between the House and Senate to resolve differences between this bill and legislation passed by the U.S. Senate earlier this year. I am hopeful that the Conference Committee will iron out these differences quickly so we can get a bill to the President’s desk.

More information on the STRR Act here.

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Positions:

The Chamber has joined the Association of Chamberof Commerce   Executives (ACCE) and signed the joint Chambers for U.S. Infrastructure Investment letter to Congress. Click here to read the letter sent to Congress.

Thank you letters, click here, were sent to Berks Congressman Costello, Dent and Meehan for signing on to the letter to Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi advocating that we enact a fully funded multi-year surface transportation bill at the earliest possible date.  The Chamber is working collaboratively with the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition holding meetings with our Congressmen on sustainable transportation funding. 

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Q: What drives your business?

A: Not only does traffic stall your morning commute, it also stalls the growth of your business. Transportation is quite literally the driving force of our local economy. A sound transportation structure is imperative in order to efficiently move people, goods, and ideas from place to place.

Q: The highway to better business?

A: It has been proven that highly connected systems of transportation are directly correlated to increased economic prosperity and standards of living. On the other hand, consequences of poorly connected systems include:

  • Increased costs
  • Unreliable transport of goods/services 
  • Inaccessibility to markets
  • Decreased economic velocity  

Q: Are we running out of fuel? 

A: While PA Act 89 will increase funding from about $330 million (2014) to $2.3 billion (2019), we are still at a crossroads regarding federal funding. The Highway and Transportation Funding Act (H.R. 5021) has created only a short term funding solution that will end May 31, 2015. Had this bill not been passed the Federal Highway and Transportation Fund (HTF) would have run out of money in August 2014. In order to generate a solution, we must fix the discrepancies between Federal and PA transportation funding

 

Let's build a bridge to a stronger local economy

   
     
  Local businesses and elected officials come together at the Transportation Luncheon. Read more about the event.   

 

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FasterBetterSafer The Americans for Transportation Mobility Coalition is a collaborative effort by business, labor, transportation stakeholders and concerned citizens to advocate for improved and increased federal investment in the nation’s aging and overburdened transportation system.

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