Infrastructure: Transportation Investment Needed

Jul 31, 2009

As the expiration date for federal legislation authorizing investment in roads, bridges, and transit systems approaches, U.S. Chamber members are clamoring for timely renewal of the program.

Representatives from businesses, associations, and chambers of commerce around the country gathered in Washington, D.C., to call for improved existing surface transportation programs and increased investment. The July 14 and 15 event was sponsored by the Chamber's Let's Rebuild America initiative and Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM).

Says event participant Chris Kershner, vice president of public policy and economic development for the 2,800-member Dayton (Ohio) Area Chamber of Commerce, "Our members recognize the importance of a safe and efficient transportation network because of its direct correlation to economic growth." Dayton received federal funding for a large interchange off I-75 that is now attracting development, Kershner notes.

The Safe, Accountable, Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, or SAFETEA-LU, authorizes surface transportation spending for six years and is scheduled to expire on September 30. To increase federal transportation dollars, the Chamber is calling on Congress to explore all funding options, including raising user fees, encouraging private investment, and creating an infrastructure bank. The Chamber also supports using money collected from gas taxes and other fees for transportation projects only and cutting project red tape.

The Chamber and ATM are conducting a comprehensive advertising, grassroots, and lobbying campaign in support of SAFETEA-LU reauthorization. The effort includes advertisements on buses and commuter trains and in magazines and on Web sites; opinion pieces in local newspapers; and press events with members of Congress.

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