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Missouri Department of Transportation

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MoDOT News Release 

For more information contact Jeff Briggs at 573-751-5985.

June 05, 2008 12:00 AM
MoDOT Director Testifies in Washington D.C. On Looming Transportation Funding Crisis
Missouriís 800-Bridge Improvement Program Also Highlighted

WASHINGTON D.C. - The United States is at risk of falling behind other countries in transportation funding, meaning lost jobs and lost lives, Missouri Department of Transportation Director Pete Rahn warned federal lawmakers today.  Testifying before a House Congressional committee, Rahn laid out the funding crisis, encouraging Congress to take action to dramatically improve the nation's transportation system.

"We have grossly under funded both our state and federal transportation systems over the last three decades," Rahn said.  "If we continue this downward spiral, we risk losing our status as a global leader, as well as precious lives. 

"To put it simply, we must pony up now to remain globally competitive or we will end up with a second-rate transportation system and a much less mobile society than we have today.  China has seen the light and can be looked to as a model for investing in transportation.  That country, adjusted for purchase power parity, invested $363 billion on highways alone in the last year.  Compare that to the U.S., which at all levels spends annually $87 billion on highways and transit capital a year. India, according to a recent USA Today article, has tripled its infrastructure spending to $500 billion a year."

Rahn, who also serves as president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, emphasized the growing truck traffic that is driving the economy and wearing out U.S. highways.  "Today's interstates carry an average of 10,500 trucks per day per mile," he said.  "By 2035, this figure will increase to 22,700 trucks per day per mile. Today only 30 miles on the interstate system carry more than 50,000 trucks per day per mile. By 2035, that number may reach 2,500 miles."

Rahn called for increased investment at the federal level, with more flexibility to use the money on innovative approaches to extend the life of existing highways. 

"I am very concerned that the investments made in transportation by our grandparents that have given us unprecedented mobility and prosperity are not being made by our generation," he said.  "Our children and grandchildren will not enjoy the same economic advantages and quality of life because of our refusal to pass along a comparable legacy.

"We must either find ways now to fund a transportation system that will ensure economic prosperity or be content to sit in traffic and watch our highways crumble because of overuse and a lack of funding.  We can't afford to wait.  Jobs and lives are at stake."

Rahn emphasized Missouri's Safe & Sound program, which will upgrade more than 800 of the state's worst bridges within five years.  Under the proposal, a single team of contractors will finance the project's capital cost, estimated between $600 million and $800 million.  The team will also be responsible for design, construction and structural maintenance of the bridges for at least an additional 25 years.  MoDOT will pay for the program over 25 years with federal bridge funds.

"National and international headlines have pointed to Missouri's innovative Safe and Sound Bridge initiative as a possible model for the entire nation," Rahn said.  "I know you, too, are watching our progress closely to see how it can be applied elsewhere.  Even U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said the Safe and Sound Bridge Program is  ‘.... attracting national attention for its especially creative approach....'

"In Missouri, we recognize that we must be innovative to accomplish necessary road and bridge improvements.  We know we must be efficient in our operations and make our dollars stretch as far as they can.  We owe that to the citizens we serve.  However, innovative solutions and program efficiencies will only go so far.  What we really need is a significant infusion of money dedicated to the nation's transportation system." 

A complete transcript of Rahn's testimony is available at http://www.modot.org/.

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