Disability Access

Individuals with disabilities who require an auxiliary aid or service should contact the committee chief clerk at (202) 224-5175 at least three business days in advance of the hearing date.
Lafayette Public Library South Auditorium, 6101 Johnston St., Lafayette, LA 70503 10:30am CST

Chairman David Vitter

Good morning, and thank you for joining me in Lafayette today for the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee hearing on the need to invest federal funding to relieve traffic congestion and increase small business growth by improving our roads and bridges at the state and local level.

I would also like to thank our witnesses for being here today:

• Mr. David Kim, Associate Administrator for Policy and Governmental Affairs, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation

• Mr. Terry Baugh, CFO, D&J Construction

• Mr. Kam Movassaghi, P.E., Ph.D., F. ASCE

• Mr. Don Hargroder, Owner, Courtesy Automotive

• Ms. Missy Rogers, President, Noble Plastics

Today we will discuss ways to relieve traffic congestion so we can carry out our daily routines, like picking up the kids from school, and how improving our roads and bridges will help local small businesses. We will also discuss a number of issues, like my efforts to pass a long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill that would help to maintain and modernize our transportation infrastructure.

Improving and updating our nation’s infrastructure is not a partisan issue. In addition to my role as Chair of the Small Business Committee, I also serve as the Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee and have been working with my Republican and Democrat colleagues on a bipartisan, long-term highway bill that will implement reforms that our nation’s infrastructure desperately needs.

Those of you here today are quite familiar with the major issues affecting traffic and our roads in Louisiana. In fact, Louisiana’s highway system ranks as No. 40 in the nation, and the conditions on our interstate roads are ranked No. 48. That’s why I’m going to make sure the new highway bill includes targeted funds to build additional lanes and improve the flow of commerce, especially where there is heavy traffic and more wear and tear on the roads.

Louisiana’s bridges also need major repairs and updates. Currently, our state ranks 10th in the nation in the most deficient bridges. I’ve working on legislation that will give locals more flexibility to “bundle” projects together. This bundling will streamline approval process, consolidate unnecessary paper work, and maximize efficiency to complete projects ahead of time.

We also need to make sure that major projects like I-49 South have the resources they need to be completed on time.

All of these deficiencies are draining money from our economy and potential GDP. The numbers show that traffic congestion alone robbed the U.S. economy of $120 billion in 2013. Of the 2013 total, $78 billion was time and fuel wasted in traffic and $45 billion was the sum of costs businesses passed onto consumers. Without significant action to alleviate congestion, this cost is expected to increase 50 percent to $186 billion by 2030.

That’s why I’m working to prioritize funding for highway and infrastructure projects. Our families and small businesses cannot afford to keep spending money on unnecessary time in the car.

These are just a few of the major traffic issues Louisiana is facing today, and I look forward to discussing concrete and helpful solutions with our expert witnesses today.

Thank you again for joining me.

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