Joung Lee (above), deputy director-chief policy officer for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, recently laid out key policy focal points for the organization as the “high point” of funding from the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA is reached.
[Above photo by AASHTO]
“We really are at the pivot point now at the halfway mark of the five-year IIJA and AASHTO President [Craig] Thompson is calling on us to really work with our federal and local partners to ensure that that very high promise of the IIJA is fully realized; to keep its many transformational projects going forward,” Lee noted at the AASHTO Council on Rail Transportation 2024 Legislative Meeting in Washington, D.C.
“For example, the Blatnik Bridge grant announcement made by President Biden – which was really exciting to see – highlights the tangible kinds of [projects] that just haven’t been able to happen for decades until the passage of the IIJA,” Lee said.
“That’s why we are really focused on showing that the IIJA can’t be just a one-time shot in the arm. It has to be the new standard going forward for infrastructure funding as the reauthorization process starts up,” he pointed out.
Lee added that the IIJA was “really unique” in bringing a substantial amount from the federal government’s general fund to provide fiscal support for U.S. infrastructure needs across a range of sectors.
“That gave it the [funding] stability of what you’d expect from, say, the Highway Trust Fund for a multi-year basis. And that really I think has made a difference, especially for programs funded outside of the Highway Trust Fund,” he said.
“So we want to make sure that momentum continues; that we’re able to make the justification for continuing that [infrastructure funding] support from Congress in the next go around,” Lee stressed.