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May 13, 2010 - ASCE Statement - Proposal for a National Infrastructure Bank

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May 13, 2010

The Honorable Richard E. Neal                     The Honorable Pat Tiberi
Chairman                                                    Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Select Revenue                 Subcommittee on Select Revenue 
    Measures                                                    Measures
Committee on Ways and Means                    Committee on Ways and Means
U.S. House of Representatives                     U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515                                 Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Neal and Ranking Member Tiberi:

I am writing on behalf of the more than 144,000 members of the American
Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) to thank you for holding a hearing on proposals to
create a National Infrastructure Bank. ASCE supports the creation and operation of a
National Infrastructure Bank.

ASCE concluded in our 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure that the
nation’s infrastructure deserved an overall grade of “D.” We said then that America’s
aging and overburdened infrastructure threatens the economy and quality of life in every
state, city, and town in the nation. In addition, we estimated that it will take an
investment of $2.2 trillion over a five-year period to bring the nation's existing
infrastructure into a state of good repair.

A National Infrastructure Bank would leverage public funds with private dollars to
invest in infrastructure - transportation, environment, energy, and telecommunications
projects of significance - that could play a major role in improving the nation’s
infrastructure. A National Infrastructure Bank should be capitalized initially by general
fund appropriations and should be self-sustaining after the initial start-up period. The
bank should develop financing packages for selected projects which could include direct
subsidies, direct loan guarantees, long-term tax-credit general purpose bonds, and
long-term tax-credit infrastructure project specific bonds. Finally, the Bank should not
replace existing infrastructure funding and financing mechanisms, but act as a
supplement to leverage federal, state, local, and private infrastructure financing.

ASCE is concerned with the accelerated deterioration of America's infrastructure,
with the general reduction in investment for the preservation and enhancement of our
quality of life, and with the maintenance of U.S. competitiveness in the global
marketplace. As the representative of the profession most responsible for the built
environment, ASCE must be a voice in the national debate on infrastructure. ASCE has
and will continue to support innovative financing programs that not only make resources
readily available, but also encourage the most effective and efficient use of those
resources.

ASCE also wishes to make clear that financing alternatives such as a National
Infrastructure Bank can not replace a public commitment to funding. Financing by any
technique does not supplant the need for adequate user fees or other funding sources
to eventually pay for projects.

This nation cannot afford to wait much longer to make significant investments in
its infrastructure. Please do not hesitate to contact Martin Hight, ASCE Senior Manager
of Government Relations, of our Washington office at 202-789-7843 or
mhight@asce.org if we can be of any assistance in passing this important legislation.

Sincerely,

Blaine D. Leonard, P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE
President