Alabama members call for longer-term transportation planning after trust fund vote


The U.S. House has passed H.R. 2353a bill approving temporary funding for the nation’s federal transportation trust fund for two months beyond an impending statutory cutoff — with the support of U.S. Reps. Bradley Byrne and, somewhat more surprisingly, Terri Sewell.

But that didn’t stop either from expressing displeasure at the short-term nature of the bill passed Tuesday, a result of ongoing gridlock over myriad issues in the House. Byrne and Sewell, who respectively represent Alabama’s 1st and 7th Congressional Districts, each issued statements Tuesday evening saying a more predictable and comprehensive approach is required for maximum public good.

“It is sometimes hard in Washington for Republicans and Democrats to find common ground, but both sides agree we need a long-term, reliable funding stream for the Highway Trust Fund,”  Byrne said in his news release.

“While I voted for today’s short term extension, I will not continue to support kicking the can down the road and putting off difficult decisions. Funding our nation’s highway system is a fundamental responsibility of Congress, and it is time we get serious about finding a solution. I intend to be a constructive participant in that process.”

Sewell — breaking with most of her caucus, which opposed the measure — echoed those statements after her “yea” vote Tuesday afternoon.

“The Highway Trust Fund Extension is nothing more than a Band-Aid. It’s disappointing that Congress is no closer to drafting a long-term solution to invest in our nation’s roads, bridges, and rails than we were this time last year,” Sewell said in her written statement. “Our nation’s investment in infrastructure is woefully inadequate to the detriment of our constituents.”

“In Alabama, deteriorating roads cost motorists approximately $1.2 billion a year. Across our country, an estimated one in three fatal traffic accidents is caused by roads that are in poor or mediocre condition, and the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that one out of every nine bridges in the U.S. is structurally deficient.”

Sewell ended, however, on a hopeful note.

“By building the infrastructure of tomorrow, we would also create thousands of good-paying jobs that help more hard-working Americans earn a living.”