“Buy America” Clarity Would Prevent Delays
More than 36,000 transportation improvement projects – including at least one in every congressional district – have moved forward in the past 16 months as implementation of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) continues, American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Chair Paula Hammond told a congressional panel March 28.
In her testimony, Hammond, a senior vice president with WSP USA, cited examples of how federal transportation investments are yielding benefits for the American traveling public:
- Pittsburgh’s Fern Hollow Bridge, which collapsed January 28, 2022, was reopened in less than a year as a 460-foot, four-lane span with the help of $25 million in federal funding, including IIJA money.
- In Idaho, a 6.5-mile stretch of Highway 95 is being expanded with new lanes, wider shoulders, and more level grades.
The ARTBA chair acknowledged inflation continues to have impacts on the states’ ability to deliver projects.
“Increased material costs and supply chain challenges undoubtedly have had a dilutive impact on the law’s investments,” Hammond said. But she added, “It’s also clear this situation would have been dramatically worse had Congress opted for another flat-funded extension of surface transportation programs. Our analysis shows there has been real market growth over the last year.”
Hammond cautioned committee members about new and well-meaning IIJA requirements related to expansion of Buy America. “If Buy America provisions are not pursued with stakeholder input and articulated clearly, it could have the opposite outcome and result in unnecessary project delays.”
Concluding her testimony, Hammond observed, “The initial data reveal IIJA’s highway, bridge and public transportation investments are working as intended. Many more benefits for the American people are still to come.”
The Washington, D.C.-based ARTBA represents the U.S. transportation design and construction industry in the Nation’s Capital.
Visit ARTBA at: artba.org