Polly Trottenberg (above), deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, highlighted the “exciting, dynamic, and challenging times” the industry is facing during a speech at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials 2023 Annual Meeting in Indianapolis.
[Above photo by USDOT]
The biggest sign of that is the enactment of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA in 2021; the passage of which was “no small feat” in her view.
“It was a fantastic thing to have the stars align to pass that transformative bill, but we also must recognize that getting that bill passed was not the hardest part,” Trottenberg said. “The hardest part is now managing in a skillful way all the [IIJA’s] resources.”
She noted that “so many great things are happening in so many states” in terms of transportation projects funded by the IIJA: “It represents incredible generational change.”
Yet she noted that USDOT recognizes that local and tribal level projects can face challenges, especially in terms of accessing all of the funding the agency is making available through new grant programs initiated by the IIJA.
“We need the states at this moment as we give grants to localities and tribes – they need that state experience with federal programs,” Trottenberg said.
She also emphasized that it is “not too soon” to start thinking next five year funding reauthorization bill and how the IIJA will impact it.
“Implementation of the IIJA provides an opportunity to demonstrate to the taxpayer and to Congress that we are going to deliver projects on time and on budget, while improving people’s lives and the communities they live in,” Trottenberg stressed. “It’s a way to show that these dollars make a difference for them and our country.”