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April 24, 2009 - ASCE Letter - supporting the Budget Resolution

April 24, 2009

The Honorable John M. Spratt                         The Honorable Paul D. Ryan
Chairman                                                       Ranking Member
Committee on Budget                                     Committee on Budget
U.S. House of Representatives                         U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515                                 Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Kent Conrad                             The Honorable Judd Gregg
Chairman                                                       Ranking Member
Committee on Budget                                     Committee on Budget
United States Senate                                      United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510                                 Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairmen Spratt and Conrad and Ranking Members Ryan and Gregg:

On behalf of the over 146,000 members of the American Society of Civil Engineers
(ASCE), we are writing to strongly urge you to include the highest possible baseline for
surface transportation programs in the fiscal year 2010 budget resolution conference
report.

ASCE supports the Budget Resolution ordered by the House which provides a solid
foundation for the upcoming surface transportation authorization act. If the House Budget
Resolution is applied over the six-year period from fiscal years 2010 to 2015, the
resolution assumes a base allocation of $324 billion for federal highway, bridge, traffic
safety, and transit projects, significantly more than the $242 billion in the Senate Budget
Resolution.

ASCE’s 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure graded the nation’s infrastructure
a “D” based on 15 categories (the same overall grade as ASCE’s 2005 Report Card).
Roads received a grade of D-, (as compared to a grade of D in 2005); bridges received a
grade of C, (the same as in 2005); transit received a D, (as compared to a D+ in 2005);
and rail received a grade C-, (the same as in 2005). The failure to achieve higher grades is
a clear indication that the nation’s surface transportation infrastructure is deteriorating
with each passing day.

In light of the investment needed to improve the nation’s surface transportation programs,
it is important to ensure that the budget allows for increased investment levels. Therefore,
ASCE also supports the reserve fund language in the House passed resolution. While
both the House and Senate resolutions include language which allow for increased
investments if new Highway Trust Fund revenues are generated, the House version is
more flexible and will provide Congress with the ability to engage in a merit based
debate over appropriate funding levels. We would note that the contract authority levels
in the Senate resolution would not even maintain current levels of highway and transit
investment.

ASCE is pleased that both committees continued to recognize the unique nature of trustfunded
programs and rejected the Office of Management and Budget’s proposal to
change how programs funded by contract authority are treated for budget scoring
purposes. Maintaining contract authority and the firewalls associated with the Highway
Trust Fund are necessary to ensure that dedicated surface transportation generated
revenue is spent on surface transportation programs, and we encourage the budget
conferees to support the contract authority assumptions included in the House Budget
Resolution in the FY 2010 budget conference report, as well as maintaining a surface
transportation reserve fund which allows for the maximum potential investment in the
nation’s surface transportation programs.

Transportation is a critical engine of the nation’s economy. It is the thread which knits the
country together. To compete in the global economy, improve our quality of life and raise
our standard of living, we must successfully rebuild America’s public infrastructure.
Faced with that task, the nation must begin with a significantly improved and expanded
surface transportation system.

Very truly yours,

D. Wayne Klotz, P.E., D.WRE, F.ASCE

cc: Members of the House and Senate Budget Resolution Conference
House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid
Senators Boxer, Baucus, Inhofe, Voinovich