As we approach this country’s 236th Independence Day, I’m feeling pretty proud. As a hands-on precaster who works hard to keep the plant running, I’ve been critical of our do-nothing Congress in recent months. However, I’m thankful that for a brief moment the two sides came together and actually compromised to pass a 27-month transportation bill. It’s not the typical four or five year transportation package that we usually see, but given that we haven’t had any long-term transportation legislation since 2005, we’ll take it.
The bill that has been passed allocates funding at current levels to sustain transportation projects through the end of the federal fiscal year, Sept. 30, 2014. To get a bill passed, House Republicans compromised by not including authorization of the Keystone XL project or relaxation on the regulations on coal ash. Democrats agreed to not push for funding of bike paths and highway landscaping
It took our forefathers a considerable amount of fortitude and courage to sign the Declaration of Independence. By no stretch of the imagination can we compare this to that historic moment, but I am glad that our elected officials – at least for a moment – summoned a fraction of that courage to pass a sorely needed piece of legislation rather than just passing another extension that would get us past the election. While it is not a perfect bill, at least it could provide enough certainty to state DOTs to launch some of the larger highway projects that have been in limbo the past two years.
For a construction industry that is grasping for any piece of good news it can get its hands on, this could serve as the spark that started us along the path to the recovery.
If you’ve got some fireworks saved up for the Fourth, I say light ‘em if you got ‘em.
Board Chair, National Precast Concrete Association