National policymakers and leaders of key transportation industry groups will participate in a March 19 forum at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
Hosted by the National Journal newspaper, the event is called "Running on Empty: Tackling America's Infrastructure Crisis," and comes as Congress faces a May 31 deadline to reauthorize the Highway Trust Fund and replenish its highway and transit accounts.
It is the latest in a series of conferences and special communications efforts designed to help focus public and congressional attention on the need for transportation system improvements.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will be there to present the Obama administration's views, including its push for a six-year, $478 billion "Grow America Act" to cover highway, transit, and passenger rail programs and to expand infrastructure grants.
Rep. Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, will discuss legislative plans for his panel that has already gotten a rail authorization bill through the House.
Shuster recently told state transportation agency officials that "there needs to be significantly more investment into our infrastructure," and has said he is aiming to get a long-term highway bill passed before May 31.
Industry leaders at the forum include Bud Wright, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials; Pete Ruane, president of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association; and Casey Dinges, senior managing director at the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Wright's Newseum appearance follows his March 10 briefing to a Capitol Hill audience about transportation investment needs with Michael Melaniphy, president of the American Public Transportation Association.
They discussed the AASHTO-APTA "Bottom Line Report" that shows capital investment in highway and transit systems running far behind levels needed to maintain the infrastructure and keep up with rising demand.
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The broad infrastructure proposal unveiled July 23 on Capitol Hill by Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Penn., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, also serves to underscore a long-running debate over how to return the Highway Trust Fund to solvency.
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