Recent Op-Eds

Hitting the Highway

July 13, 2012

It is tough to live in South Dakota and not find yourself spending some time on the open road. As South Dakotans, we grow up making trips to neighboring towns for sporting events, visiting family, and sometimes even a trip to the nearest airport. Additionally, ranchers, farmers, and businesses frequently use commercial vehicles to transport goods and materials in and out of our state. There is no doubt that federal highways and bridges are critical to both our personal lives and our economy in South Dakota.

The extreme temperatures we experience in South Dakota take their toll on the state’s roads and highways. We often joke that there are two seasons in South Dakota, winter and road construction. Maintenance and repair of our federal highways are critical to ensure safe travel for South Dakota families and commercial vehicles. Since being elected to Congress, I have been a strong advocate for providing reliable federal infrastructure funding to meet the needs of South Dakota’s transportation system.

Periodically, Congress must re-evaluate the federal transportation funding formula and a number of highway safety programs by passing a federal surface transportation reauthorization bill. I was very pleased that the House and Senate were recently able to reach a bipartisan agreement to pass the latest reauthorization of federal surface transportation legislation that will remove unnecessary delays in the construction process and provide funding certainty for the South Dakota Department of Transportation and local communities through September of 2014. I supported final passage of this important bill, and was able to work closely on the crafting of this legislation as a member of both the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. Through my work, I was able to again protect South Dakota’s share of transportation funding, just as I was able to do during the 1998 and 2005 reauthorization bills.

The impending August work period means that I will soon be hitting the open roads of South Dakota again to travel around the state to meet with constituents. August is a busy time across South Dakota as families take advantage of one last road trip before school starts. There is a familiar hum across the state as we gear up for the Sturgis Rally that will draw thousands of individuals to the Black Hills. Regardless of what takes individuals and families on our highways, I take pride in knowing that the reforms and funding certainty that are contained in this important transportation bill will continue to keep my family and all South Dakota families safe. The investments that will be made in the coming years will help ensure that our state will continue to have a top quality transportation network that supports both South Dakota’s and our nation’s economies.