Congressman Frank Guinta today voted for the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, Congress' first long-term transportation funding bill in nearly a decade. The bill solves a series of short-term funding patches and would direct $875 million over the next five years to Granite State infrastructure projects.
Manchester's former two-term mayor called the FAST Act "a gigantic win for bipartisan House and Senate cooperation, reliable transportation and local economic development."
"Today's bill accomplishes two big goals," he said. "The FAST Act removes uncertainty from highway construction projects, stalling month to month due to federal funding lapses, and increases funding to New Hampshire roads, bridges and more by almost $78 million over previous figures. Finally, our state can commence work on our dilapidated infrastructure."
"We have over 100 red-list bridges needing repair," said Rep. Guinta (NH01), referring to a Department of Transportation study that ranked New Hampshire 11th out of 50 states with immediate needs. "Yet we're only the 44th largest state, in terms of size," said Manchester's former mayor.
He explained that his state's harsh weather wears on infrastructure. "On the other hand," said the Congressman, "we have a growing economy in the First District, where Interstate 93 needs widening to accommodate more traffic." He pointed to Portsmouth's pre-World War II Sarah Long Bridge, which broke down in 2013, as an example of aging Granite State infrastructure requiring attention.
The new legislation reauthorizes federal transportation funding until 2020. Awaiting a final appropriations bill this year, today's streamlines federal agencies and regulatory roadblocks to construction, invests in safety technology and block-grants funds to states to increase local flexibility. The last such long-term reauthorization occurred in 2005.
Elimination of federal waste offsets any additional spending, said Rep. Guinta, a member of the House Financial Services Committee. "There will be no new taxes," he said. "Republicans and Democrats have joined together to do what previous Congresses have been unable to -- to set our country on a responsible course into the 21st Century."