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Thune/Wyden Announce Legislation to Address America's Aging Transportation Infrastructure

"Build America Bonds" Act would spur investment in Highways, Bridges, Rail, and Waterways

September 7, 2007

Washington, D.C. —  Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) today announced an effort to fund much needed new transportation construction and repair of our nation's aging roads, rail lines, and bridges. The "Build America Bonds" Act would provide $50 billion in additional Federal transportation funding, and would empower states across the country to complete critical infrastructure projects, including many throughout South Dakota and Oregon. Other original cosponsors of the legislation include Senators Norm Coleman (R-MN), Susan Collins (R-ME), Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and David Vitter (R-LA).

Build America Bonds would raise $50 billion for transportation infrastructure through a one-time bonding program. This amount would be spent on various transportation projects across all modes of transportation including roads, bridges, transit, rail, and waterways. In lieu of interest, bond holders would receive tax credits. The bonds would be available to corporate and individual investors for purchase at different denominations, providing all Americans with the opportunity to invest in upgrading America's transportation infrastructure.

"The Build America Bonds Act is about generating economic growth, improving transportation infrastructure, and ultimately saving lives through enhanced transportation safety without a tax increase," said Thune. "Significant transportation needs across the country underscore the tremendous need for this legislation. I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle recognize just how important this legislation is to our nation's transportation system."

"The Build America Bonds Act is a creative solution to a critical problem," said Wyden. "By giving Americans the opportunity to invest in the nation's infrastructure, these bonds will not only create jobs, they'll save lives."

The funding from this one-time federal bonding program, which has the potential to create 2.5 million jobs while saving countless lives, would be in addition to the dollars states receive through the existing Federal Transportation program.

Despite record transportation funding that Congress provided in the Transportation Reauthorization bill (SAFETEA-LU) that expires in 2009, the estimated cost to improve existing highways and bridges amounts to over $155 billion annually. The American Society of Civil Engineers has noted that over the next five years $1.6 trillion in investment is needed from all levels of government to keep our nation's current transportation system up to date. The Build America Bonds Act would be supplemental to the annual funding that states receive from the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that for every $1 billion in new transportation funding nearly 50,000 jobs are created and an estimated $5.7 billion in economic activity is generated. Build America Bonds have the potential to generate over $285 billion in economic activity.

Infrastructure improvements made possible through Build America Bonds would enhance safety and have the potential to save 12,000 lives each year that are lost due to poor road conditions and deteriorating bridges, not to mention additional lives saved and accidents prevented due to enhancements across other modes of transportation.

Similar legislation was introduced in the previous two sessions of Congress. A diverse group of business, labor, and transportation infrastructure associations are supporting the legislation, including: Associated General Contractors of America (AGC); American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO); U.S. Chamber of Commerce; National Association of Manufacturers; National Construction Alliance - a coalition of the Laborers, Carpenters, and Operating Engineers Unions; American Highway Users Alliance; and many others.