Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan told Congress on Tuesday that rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure would create jobs and help the nation’s economy recover from the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic.
But Hogan said the federal funding process must be streamlined, and states should be given more flexibility to choose the most needed projects to keep things moving in cities, suburbs and rural areas.
“There’s no question that as we try to come out of this pandemic and we head into economic recovery, particularly in some of our urban areas, investment in infrastructure can create more jobs,” Hogan testified to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
The panel held a one-day hearing called “Building Back Better: Investing in Transportation while Addressing Climate Change, Improving Equity, and Fostering Economic Growth and Innovation.”
Hogan told the panel that he anticipates the public-private partnership project to build a new American Legion Bridge and expand part of the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270 to include toll lanes would create more than 100,000 jobs.
“That’s going to provide 11,000 jobs for every billion dollars invested in that project, and it’s going to be about a $10 billion project. So, there’s no question that this is going to be a big part of our economic recovery,” Hogan said.
But Hogan told the panel that the federal funding process for transportation projects — both road and transit — is too cumbersome and sluggish, raising costs of projects simply because of long project approval times.
“It’s still much too long, much too confusing of a process that adds cost. It adds time frames. Time is money. We don’t get these projects moving forward, we’re not solving the infrastructure needs, the transportation problems. And it’s also costing taxpayers a lot more money because of the delays,” Hogan said.
The Maryland governor recommended that Congress strive to reduce project approval times, including aiming for concluding environmental impact studies in two years instead of a current estimated seven years.
Hogan was one of several witnesses who testified to the Senate panel, which also included Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., the committee’s chairman, said he expected the committee to approve a reauthorization bill this spring for funding programs that maintain the nation’s transportation infrastructure.
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