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McConnell: Highway Bill is Good for Kentucky

While Kentucky has a strong network of interstates, highways and parkways, it’s obvious to anyone who has driven in the Commonwealth lately that many important transportation infrastructure projects are in urgent need of repair. This is bad news for the millions of Kentuckians who use our roads and bridges every day.

The situation is dire. More than one out of four bridges serving Kentucky are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. The rate of congestion on our state’s roads outpaces the average. And the deteriorating condition of our roads costs drivers an additional $941 million a year—which comes out to $315 per motorist.

All of which is why I recently negotiated a bill that led to the passage of the DRIVE Act in the U.S. Senate—a long-term highway authorization bill that would allow Kentucky and other states to plan highway and bridge projects with certainty. The bill would provide three years of guaranteed funding for interstate highway projects without raising taxes or adding to the deficit.

The bill’s Senate passage is a win for Kentucky drivers and is just the latest example of how a new Republican majority has gotten the Senate back to work and functioning for the American people. The House of Representatives is now developing similar legislation so both chambers can agree on a final, long-term bill to send to the president’s desk.

For too long, Congress has failed to fund our nation’s highways with long-term goals in mind, but instead has passed only short-term funding bills. Major infrastructure projects like roads and bridges, however, take years to build. Without the certainty of long-term legislation, states find it difficult to plan for and undertake these kinds of projects.

The long-term highway bill known as the DRIVE Act would give state and local governments the certainty and stability they need to plan long-term road and bridge projects. It will provide state and local governments with more flexibility in how they spend the federal transportation funds they receive.

It would also streamline regulations, advance research and innovation in transportation, modernize infrastructure and transportation systems, and enforce new accountability measures so Kentuckians can see how their tax money is spent.

Funding provided by this bill would go toward a number of important highway projects in Kentucky that would be prioritized by the state.

An enacted long-term highway bill—like the DRIVE Act—would also support jobs in Kentucky and across the nation as these and other important infrastructure projects get underway.

And importantly, the DRIVE Act would do all of this without raising the federal gasoline tax, a tax that hits working families particularly hard. This bill won’t raise a penny in new taxes, nor increase the deficit.

I’m pleased I was able to get this important bill passed in the Senate and I look forward to the House acting soon on similar legislation that will benefit Kentucky and the nation. With a long-term highway bill like the DRIVE Act signed into law, we can rebuild our infrastructure, ease growing congestion, and improve traffic safety for Kentuckians. We can support jobs and boost the economy. And we can keep Kentuckians moving safely and efficiently over our state’s roads and bridges.

Mitch McConnell is the U.S. Senate Majority Leader and is the senior senator from Kentucky. He was first elected in 1984.