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tv   State Officials Testify on Rural Infrastructure  CSPAN  February 22, 2017 10:54am-12:57pm EST

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that kill iing cops is a self-servinging prominent level of state and local government and an artists, and to use the opportunity to seize the moment of tragedies to seize upon this agen agenda. those whop oppo oppose the rulew is damaging to my life's work. they are trying to undermine the advantage that disa advantaged and other minorities need to have in their communities at their finest. i had surmised that there needed to be a psyche of the discharges
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who wonder if the honorable work is worth it anymore. see this event live tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern. and now, the utilities lawmakers on caple tall hill. they testified before the state public works community including delaware and wyoming and colorado, and chairman john barrasso serves as is the rea n ranking member. good morning. i call this hearing to order. president trump has made improving the nation's
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infrastructure a top priority. infrastructure is critical to the nation's prosperity. the senate and the environment and the public works commitment has jurs disdiction over the highways and the roads, and the dams and roads. this allows things to go from the heartland to the coast, and they provide protection to rural and urban communities that save lives. and in addition, they have infrastructure that is modernization. it does not matter the setting of rural or not. the impact is going to be particularly counter productive if they do not apply the kif frens of urban and rural. our committee has members from both the rural and urban areas. newport, rhode island, and wheatland, wyoming, and wyoming,
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delaware. a and the diversity of the towns, and clear and the solutions to pay for closing the roads and the dams and it is not one size fits u all. what works for baltimore, maryland, may not work for bags, wyoming. the scale of the big dig in boston that cost billions of dollars or projects that cost hundreds of billions of dollars are rare in rural states. and the funding solutions that involve public-private are relationsh relationships. and there may be solutions for the crumbling inter city, but not for the rural areas as the testimony will show. as stated in the written testimony submitted on behalf of idaho, montana, wyoming, north dakota and south dakota, and public/private partnerships that depend upon a revenue stream are
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not a form of infrastructure membership. this committee has delaware, alabama, alaska, rhode island, vermont senor or thes here, and just to name a few, but i did not forget west virginia. i want to make sure that these states are not forgotten. i want to work with my colleagues to address the issues of the state, and not ignore the large metropolitan areas as well. and submitted in the five written statements, federal highways and the states largely ornl gnat nate in certain ares.s and it is going to make no sense while pouring in to use the roads and the inland ports to
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allow items from rural areas to get to park. as we will demonstrate, rural waterways is have unique chals. they have been inundated by regulations from the epa which reduces the fact they will modernize. and yet, any infrastructure solutions that this committee considers should help to the address rural challenges. the challenges include funding. like the road project counterer part, these candidates are not best the candidates for loans. it is important to note that mike mccukuccullty states, due e small median income
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infrastructu infrastructure. this means that they pose a greater risk than the met metropolitan project, and requires a portion of a grant, and not just the loan to make the project feasible. the higher the number of grants will result in less to the correlating i correlating funds. and so we have the find a way to pay for these programs. i hope that this committee will find ways to help yurm america and -- to help yurl msay that w our gentleman from delaware, and delighted that you are here.
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and these folks will hear me say more than ever, and born in west va, and grew up in virginia, and my dad taught me that the things worth having are worth paying for. and if if you owe somebody money, and work three jobs until you can pay it off, but youing out to the take responsibility for the obligations. and another thing that my dad eye was toed say to my sister and me, and running around the garden he would say, if it is worth doing, it is worth doing. so with that i took the idea that everything that i do, i can do better. that is true of all of us, and every federal, and state infrastructure, and roads, highways, and bridges, and waste wauer ter. and so i hope that you will ellp to us the pay for this stuff, and easy to come up with the id
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ideas to, but not so great in paying for it. and how do we get the best are results of money and less money. that is my audible. and now, unanimous consent that a couple of documents be s submitted for the record, i hold them in my hand. >> thank you very much. >> most of us know that the new president has raised the issue of our need to modernize aged n infrastructure. some us here recently released a blueprint of not just roads and highways and bridges, but much broader than that including water and wastewater the. and i believe that members on both sides of the isle agree with this and this is one of the few moments in time that we could agree. so that is important. and this is a time. and as a recovery governor i look at the legislation through a particular lenses, and i say,
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how does a particular investment make for a more nur can churi-- nurturing job, and presentation, and in this case, we have a bunch of factors for nurturinnu and we don't think about this, the quality of the workplace that is important. and affordable energy. public safety, and the idea of having capital to foreign investment which include job opportunities, and tax policy, and access to decision makers and clean air and wa te, and businesses need predictability. 2019, an outfit called it a consulting company. they call it game-changer in how the u.s. could dramatically transform and expand the e k
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economy. one of the top game changers they gave us was infrastructure e investment. the report showed that we need to invest between 1850 and 180 million each year to make up for the underinvestment, and have robust growth. in the report, it said if we invested in this level, it would add 1.3 gdp, and almost double. it will create new jobs. so for the people who are need to go to work, this is great for them to work on the project. and also, we need to get most of the dollars from existing the n infrastructure, and to maintain the infrastructure. infrastructure is important in part to the repairs.
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and so just as important is the fact that moernd inpra stra mod helps people improve. and texas a&m said that they were just sitting in the office doing nothing. more modern would help reduce waste. and so as we rely on the goods and services, the they mo across what is known as the critical inf infrastructure, and it is aging, and in need of sig nnificant investments to help the economy to grow. the report card issued by the civil engineers they gave us for
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dams and drinking waters a d. the bridges and other a ears ya were better. and so while there are some tools that are great for some projects, it is great. but despite, whether we are rural or not, we need to find something. while traditional infrastructure to the roads and that is essential i feel that we need to protect the dune systems, and the aqua system restoration. without the protections the demand increases, and many cases becomes unmanageable.
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and so we need to embrace getting state and local governments with the shared burden and giving them the flexibility that they need. i also wa want to the know how we are prioritizing the critical investments to working with the critical investments before we build new assets that we cannot afford the play. and finally, i want to say that this is no one-size-fits-all approach to the challenge. we have to work on it by a partisan manner. and build it for a shared government responsibility to the e k economy. and so we have a couple of people before us, but i want to introduce tony pratt, administra administrator of the shoreline within the delaware department of natural resources, and current president, and i call him president of the american shore and beach preservation for
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the systems, and why infrastructure is important to preserve the roads and bridges. and now, shallen att comes to us from the colorado department of transportation, and stole n from the state of delaware where he was the department of transportation, and there he led two responses to hurricanes, and reduced the agency debt by 30% while delivering $2 billion in infrastructure improvements. i wrote a note, we are not blue states or red states, but united states. we have states in rural in nature whose needs are more different than the places where ben and i come from and represent. but we have to look out for each other. and we have to look out for each
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other, and if we do that, we will be ahead in the game. >> thank you, senator cardin, and would you like to have a statement? >> yes. this committee and the commerce committee have nine members on both, and meet agent the saing time, members are going back and forth, and we are doing a good joob to coordinate the witnesses. and i want to introduce the good looking pan looking witnesses. >> i have sbree deuced tony. >> i have known cindy bobbitt for a long time, and commissioner of grant county.
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she has been actively involved in the last eight years with the national association of county, and serving in many capacities including vice chair of the transportation steering committee, and few ther more serving on the technical oversight group with the fed a ral highway administration of safety. as you can imagine, commissioner bobbitt is passionate about the infrastructure needs, and makes sure that she makes a well qualifi qualified part of this state, and including oklahoma which relies on the infrahave uk chu, and has many infrastructure needs. they say that grant county has as many bridges as people. senator bobbitt know what it is like to grow wheat, and feed grain, and ap capital. they have deep roots as their
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farm has been in the family since the land run of 1893. commissioner bobbitt grew up in rural life driving a tractor at age nine and she bought her first piece of land when she was 16 years ole. she knows first hand the importance of agriculture industry to oklahoma's economy and the needs in getting those goods to market. commissioner bobbitt, i want to thank you for being here and for coming all the way from grant county to washington, d.c. >> thank you, senator. could i invite you to please introduce your witness. >> thank you. it is a great deal of pleasure to introduce my friend, mike mcnolte who has the general manager of putnam county west virginia representing he's testifying on the behalf of putnam county but also the west virginia rural waters association and the national rural waters association. mike is known as an expert in our state and throughout the nation in this area. he received a bachelors of science from west virginia tech and a masters from marshal university.
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he served as the general manager since 2004 and he was previously the director of the west virginia rural water association. rural communities and everybody's referenced this have had particularly challenges in west virginia. not only do we have rural communities but tough terrain that pose challenges in the maintenance of drinking water. and wastewater. mike's found a way, very creatively in his area to work with the regulatory compliance and leverage the federal dollars. to extend a lot of municipal water to a lot of people. and we talked just yesterday there's still some people left that we can't forget about it and we won't forget about but i know he'll bring valuable insight to this committee. thanks for coming from west virginia. and the others from the west virginia rural water committee.
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thank you. >> thank you, senator. i'd also like to introduce bill panose. who's the 17th director since he's a graduate of california state university where he studied both physics and forensic sciences. his previous work is engineering with the trw corporation. immediately prior to heading wydot. he was the director of wyoming school facility department for two years. we'll hear from our witnesses and we'll start from the department of transportation. i do want to remind the witnesses that your full written testimony will be made part of the official hearing today so please keep your statements to five minutes so that we may have some time for questions. i look forward to hearing all the testimony today beginning with mr. panose. >> thank you. members of the committee, director of the wyoming department of transportation. today i'm presenting a statement for my own state of wyoming and the transportation departments of idaho, montana, north dakota and south dakota.
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as congress considers surface transportation infrastructure investment we hope that our comments will enhance understanding of transportation challenges facing rural states. let me again get right to our key points. federal transportation investment in rural states benefit the nation. highways in our rural states enable truck movements between the west coast and the large cities of the mid-west and the east. they benefit people and commerce at both ends of the journey. our highways enable significant agricultural, energy and natural resource products to move from their rural points of origin to national and world markets. they enable tens of visitors each year to reach scenic wonders like mt. rushmore and yellowstone national park. so those highways ensure that tourism dollars are spent in america furthering economic goals. so there is a national interest, and plenty of good reason for the nation to invest in rural
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states. there are needs for surface transportation infrastructure investment in rural states as well as in all states. if congress advances the surface transportation infrastructure would be put to good use in wyoming and other states. they would create jobs and provide safety, economic efficiency and other short and long-term benefits to the nation. next we have some thoughts on providing some of those benefits. public, private partnerships and other approaches that depend on a positive revenue stream are not a surface transportation infrastructure solution for rural states. the traffic volumes on projects and rural states are low and almost never feasible for revenue generation. so rural states are unlikely to attract investors for those projects even, if any, project revenues are supplemented by tax credits. also, with sparse populations and extensive road networks, the cost per capita ever of paying off principal and interest is high in rural states, a deterrent to borrowing for those projects.
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we do not oppose a rural and improving the nations transportation network but they are unlikely to result in meaningful surface approximate four to one ratio funding. also, we would have particular concern, if any, surface transportation infrastructure were structured in a way that made rural state participation unrealistic. new program elements limited to extremely expensive projects would not be accessible by our states at least in the substantial way. that type of initiative may very
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well lack urban rural balance. strengthening the highway trust fund is a very important objective. the highway trust fund are critical to maintain and improve america's surface infrastructure. we appreciate that in the fast act congress provided financial support to the trust fund and its programs through fiscal year 2020. yet without legislation after 2020, the highway trust fund will not be able to support even fast act program levels much less meet the needs as the economy grows. so strengthening the htf, the highway trust fund is worthy of consideration and action. while our focus today is on funding and financial issues we also encourage congress to take steps to increase federal program flexibility and simplify program deliver y-we want each
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program dollar to deliver more benefits. before closing i'll briefly mention that our rural states face significant financial funding challenges. we are geographically large. we include vast tracts of federal lands. and cannot be taxed or developed. we have extensive highway networks and low population densities. this means that we have very few people to support each lane mile of federal highway yet rural states contribute to this effort significantly. nationally per capita contribution to the highway account of the highway trust fund is approximately $111. per capita contribution to the highway account attributable wyoming is three times as much at $319. so any surface transportation initiative congress develops should be crafted in a way that makes into account funding challenges facing rural states. in conclusion, mr. chairman, those are some of our key points and thanks again for the opportunity to be here today. >> thanks so much. welcome and please begin. >> thank you. good morning. members of the committee.
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my name is mike mcnolte a state chartered drinking water and waste water utility located just outside of charleston west virginia. on behalf of west virginia and the national rural waters we are grateful that you have included a voice for rural america at this hearing. before i begin my remarks i'd like to say thank you to our state's junior senator for her assistance in improving west virginia rural water infrastructure. we were able to construct a new $16 million waste water utility expansion that allowed us to extend service to 400 homes and businesses. this is a very important project and your assistance was essential, thank you. when thinking about national water infrastructure proposals please remember that almost all of our country's water both drinking water and sewer are small, small in rural communities have more difficult affording public water service due to the lack of population density in economies of scales. in many states the great
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majority of community water systems serve fewer than 10,000 people, for example, in west virginia it's 444 of the 468 community water systems. in wyoming it's 300 of the 319 systems and in delaware it's 196 of the 213 community water systems. while we have fewer resources, we are regulated in the exact same manner as large community. in 2017 there are rural communities in america that still do not have access to safe drinking water or sanitation due to the lack of population density or funding. some in my county. if rural and small town america is not specifically targeted in legislation to fund new water infrastructure initiatives the funding well bypass rural america and be absorbed by large metropolitan systems. small community are more difficult to fund because they are smaller in scale. numerously indicated funding applications have to be
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completed and approved compared to one large project. this is compounded by the reality that some small communities lack the administrative expertise to complete the necessary application process and perhaps lack the political appeal of some large cities. secondly, the lack of customer density in rural america compounded with lower median household incomes means water infrastructure is often a much greater cost per household. this means that a water infrastructure project poses a greater final risk compared to a metropolitan project and even more importantly requires some portion of grant funding not just loan dollars to make the project feasible. in the last ten years my district has borrowed over $50 million from the federal government for projects that were essential to our sustainability and expansion. we could not have secured this funding from the commercial markets and kept the rates affordable for our customers. my water utility provides a good example of what water infrastructure development means to rural america. since its early development in
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the 1960s our water utility infrastructure has expanded rapidly. regionalizing or inner connecting with other smaller communities to extend water and sewer service and become the engine in our county. one of our utility partners the town of buffalo was able to finance the sewer expansion that wu was needed to serve a new toyota plant with the clean and rele volving fund, and so without the expansion of the infrastructure we would not have been able to service the toyota manufacturing plant. and southern west virginia, much of our water infrastructure was built over a hundred years ago by coal companies. we have areas in my county with failing septic systems that need to be services by extending sewer lines. we still have pockets of people with no drinking water at all and they rely on hauling water. rural communities are in need of economic stimulus.
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for example, in west virginia and wyoming, the recent declines in the energy sector have resulted in massive losses of jobs, state revenue and the corresponding decrease in state infrastructure funding. a new infrastructure initiative targeted toward rural communities would be a welcome economic stimulus in rural america. in closing, mr. chairman, every rural and small community in the country thanks you and the committee for the numerous opportunities this committee has provided rural america. >> thank you. ms. bobbitt? >> than you, senator inhofe for the warm welcome. chairman barrasso, and ranking member carper, and distinguished members of the committee, thank you for holding today's committee hearing on modernizing our nation's infrastructure and
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inviting me to testify on behalf of the national association of counties. infrastructure is important to our nations 3,069 counties because we build and maintain 45% of the public roads, 40% of the bridges and a third of the nation's transit and airports. my name is cindy bobbitt and i serve as chair of the grant county oklahoma commissioners. it serves a population of 4,500 our and local economy is largely based on agriculture and natural resources. we are responsible for 92% of over 1,900 public road miles in the county. we also have the most bridges or bridge-like structures over 3,500. think about that. that's almost one bridge for every resident. while this infrastructure was ideal for transporting livestock and crops 70 years ago it is inadequate to support today's heavier trucks, increased traffic and higher operating speeds and grant county is not alone. roughly two-thirds of the nation's counties are considered rural and face similar infrastructure challenges. today i will highlight some of these challenges and provide recommendations for ways congress can help us tackle these issues.
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first, rural counties are facing numerous challenges that strain our local funding options. 42 states limit the ability for counties to raise or change property taxes and only 12 states authorize us to collect our own local glass taxes. we often have to choose between investing in infrastructure or in funding our emergency services, courthouses and health departments just to name a few. second, rural counties are experiencing increasing demands on our transportation infrastructure which can no longer accommodate our agriculture and energy needs. while local governments can do all we can and we are trying to, according to the federal highway administration, 40% of county roads are inadequate for current needs and nearly half of our rural bridges are structurally deficient. third, counties raise are facing high cost of infrastructure projects. based on the american road and transportation builders association, the cost of construction, materials and
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labor for highway and bridge projects increased 44% between 2000 and 2013. just a few years ago in grant county, we could budget for a road reconstruction project at less than half a million dollars. today that same project will cost about $1 million per mile. with these challenges in mind we have some recommendations to strengthen our nation's infrastructure. first, congress should make more federal highway dollars available for locally owned infrastructure. county, roads, bridges and highways serve as a lifeline for our citizens and are critical to the movement of freight and other goods to services to market. while more financing options are available in urban areas, rural areas do not often attract that same interest from the private sector. now more than ever we need a strong federal state local partnership to remain competitive. second increased federal fund to
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go bridges particularly off system bridges is vital. we must build for the future not the present. 20 years ago we were building our bridges 18 to 20 feet wide. today we're building our bridges 24 to 26 feet wide, but that is not going to be wide enough to accommodate our larger and heavier equipment. according to u.s. dot to eliminate the nation's bridge deficient back log by 2028 we would need to invest 20 billion annually well above the $12.8 billion invested today. third, an increased focus on safety and high risk rural roads will help our communities and help reduce the number of fatalities we see each year and finally, we urge congress to increase the role of counties in statewide planning and projects selection processes. we recognize that there are more infrastructure needs than there are funds available.
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however, counties have the ability to provide input on potential projects and can help maximize the effectiveness of federal infrastructure dollars. in closing, as congress considers ways to modernize our nation's infrastructures, counties, stand ready to work with our federal partners to achieve our shared goals of strengthening transportation networks, improving public safety and advancing our economic competitiveness. thank you, mr. chairman and members of the committee for the opportunity to testify today. >> thank you, ms. bobbitt. thank you for your testimony. welcome mr. pratt we look forward to hearing from you. >> i appreciate the time to address the committee today and i want to thank ranking member carper for recognizing something a little bit out of the box. we're not talking about roads in this testimony, we're talking about green infrastructure, particularly coastal infrastructure. infrastructure obviously from our panel members is something
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which we talk about in rural terms of roads and bridges and man building infrastructure but the green infrastructure that i'm talking about particularly beaches, dunes and wetlands are incredibly important for a number of factors. the safety that they provide during storms, the recreational opportunities and the great number of jobs that comes with those components. i want to talk about the kind of jobs first of all that come from beaches, construction of beach erosion projects is something that provides opportunities for engineers and planners and economists. it's an opportunity for dredge companies with a tremendous amount of employment to come in and do work. we think about beaches and delaware is a good example, rehoboth beach, had some good times there, is we think about the primary jobs, restaurant help, cooks, chefs, wait staff,
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hotels and motels and the employment there. we talk about people who our lifeguards and retail sales and real estate sales. but there's another facet of jobs that we don't talk about very much that's plumbers, electricians, roofers, builders, any number of trade jobs, hotel and motel management folks up and down the seaboard. because of the recreation attraction of the coastline. dr. james houston who is the research laboratory from mississippi indicated in work that he's done the beaches get more recreational use than all of our national parks combined. which is a pretty stunning thought. this adds up to a major economic impact. beaches generate $2.25 billion to the national economy.
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in 2025 for every one dollar invested by the federal government, the federal government returned $570 in annual tax revenues from beach tourism. $1 spent $570 returned. it's a very good investment we believe. estuary research shows for every million dollars invested approximately that those 30 jobs are created. coastal infrastructure is a wise investment. you either pay now or pay later. we have found in numerous storms, many storms that have hit the golf and atlantic coast, that the impacts are tremendous. $65 billion was allocated for the states primarily for massachusetts to north carolina and concentrated on maryland to massachusetts. $65 billion was allocated to restore from that and recover from that. if we took a third of that about $20 billion and had invested in
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that in over the nation over the last 20 years would have been about a billion dollar investment, we have found that in the in sandy where there were good beaches and dunes in place, $1.9 billion was saved because of that investment. we believe that if we had done that $20 billion over 20 years for the entire nation about a billion dollars a year that number would have been far higher and that $65 billion need would have been much greater reduced. beaches and duns provide many benefit benefits. we talk about jobs, we talking about the protection they afford. we also factor the dividing line between open water and estuarium waters. producing jobs for fisherman. in delaware we had an example of the department of interior investing $38 million. in recovery of national wildlife refugee. had we spent two to three million dollars in restoring the beach prior to the damage being occurred we would have avoid
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that $38 million investment. it's wise for a lot of factors. for jobs and for protections. and for es true wari waters. we believe in my summary statement we believe from the state of delaware that a higher investment that protects structures that provides jobs, that provides protection for our nation's productive habitats is a wise investment. we're advocating for something in the order of $5 billion over the next ten years. i know there's probably justification for a higher number than that. i think that's a modest request. when the current funding is about 75 million to 100 million a year. we think that that number should be much higher and i thank you for your time today. >> thank you very much for your testimony. mr. pratt. we appreciate hearing from you. and i'd like to go please begin. >> thank you, sir. i want to thank you chairman barrasso and ranking member cardin and senator inhofe and
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thank him for the passive of the authorization. i want to thank you chairman and ranking members. i also want to recognize another neighbor and thank him for his efforts to pass authorization. in the interest of time i will summarize my testimony in addition to serving as the secretary of transportation in delaware and as the executive director of colorado i also served as the deputy director of kentucky cabinet. at the federal highway administration. so i'm keenly aware of the balance of urban and rural needs in the country and how it's not a one size fits all solution. colorado is a large diverse state with rapidly growing metropolitan areas. experiencing increasing constraint mobility and vast rural areas that rely on effective and well maintained transportation system to move agriculture and energy products to market. i'm going to tell a quick story that i used a couple years ago in testimony prior to passage of the fast act. i tell this story because it's indicative of the challenges we face. when i first began as the executive director of the colorado d.o.t. i took an 1,100 mile trip around colorado. the first traffic jam i got into was in a pretty rural part of the state up near ft. collins on i-25.
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i-25 is the major north/south artery and not just for the passenger traffic, but also important freight corridor that connects canada and mexico. freight's an important part of our job in the transportation world p. when we got outside of the denver, we headed north we got to a four lane section which is similar a lot of the interstate that's present in rural areas. it was a thursday morning after rush hour so i was assumed there was an incident ahead because the traffic reminded me of the beltway in baltimore. there was no incident. that was just how traffic flowed on i-25 on a regular basis. so when i asked what the plan was to add capacity i was told that the plans on the books were for that section of i-25, a 45-mile section to be widened in 2070 based on current funding
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level. so a 16-year-old who got their driver's license could have anticipated that road being widened when that they turned 70 queers old. that is just unacceptable and that is not an urban problem or rural problem that is a problem for the state of colorado and for commerce. like the rest of the nation funding for transportation in colorado is at a crossroads. our primary source of funding both the state and federal gas tax have not increased in nearly 25 years. now in order to advance these important improvements to the i. 25 corridor we have called together state, local and private funds with toll back bonds and a $15 million tiger grant to construct just a 14 mile first phase from loveland to ft. collins. there remains over $1 billion in just in this corridor alone in unfunded needs. we have an annual budget of $1.4 billion. the vast majority of which goes to asset management which we don't even fund fully. we are short $1 billion a year to meet the currently identified transportation needs throughout the state.
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in fact, in the next decade we have $10 billion in unmet funding needs for highway and transit projects across colorado. we are working to address the severely deficient part of i-25 south of denver between colorado springs and denver. these are the two largest cities in the state. the interstate is still in its original configuration. we're working towards having that project ready to go in 18 months but we lack 4 to $500 million to make the initial improvements. in another example, we are poised to move forward in 2018 in denver but we're short about another billion dollars on that project. every year we delay that project goes up. we take advantage of financing tools such as public private partnerships but financing alone does not solve our funding challenge in transportation. we've been challenged to do more with less. we are trying to do that. we've implemented cash management to flush out any cash reserves. where it makes sense we're using tolling and public/private partnerships. and finally, we're embracing technologies, vehicle to vehicle infrastructure and vehicle to
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vehicle technologies will help us operate the system much more efficiently but that does not change the need that we have a significant need for investment in this system. to conclude i would respectfully thank this committee for their attention and care and say that the timing is right for additional revenues to states through the existing funding formulas for us to invest in our infrastructure. the economy continues to recover and significant new investment will be necessary to sustain an expand on that economic growth. we stand ready to partner with the federal government to make significant investments in our transportation system for the benefit of all americans. i'm happy to answer any questions. thank you very much. >> thank you very much. for your testimony, we appreciate you being here. we're going to turn to questions and i'll start with director paonoz, because you discussed a bond for build america bond
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program that was part of the 2009 stimulus package. you note that it doesn't work for rural states who want to build roads and bridges. it looked -- i looked at that list of projects funded by build america bonds on the treasury department website. when you look at it, our state of wyoming had six projects the state of delaware had six projects, vermont had four projects, west virginia had two projects, rhode island had only one project. in contrast new york had 59, california 158, illinois 245. could you explain to the committee why these sorts of bond programs don't really work for some of the smaller states? >> it's a great question mr. chairman. my response really is limited to service transportation and the explanation really relies on the characteristics of rural states. as i said in my written testimony we have low population densities and we have very extensive road networks so paying back the principal and interest involves a high cost per capita and it discourages borrowing for transportation and rural states and, in fact, after
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talking with state treasure this last week, wyoming has never borrowed for a road project, surface transportation project in the state of wyoming. that's how i would at least briefly respond to the question. >> and never borrowed in 120 some years, so never borrowed. >> that's correct. >> am i correct in assuming that all things being equal that if additional resources are provided, that you would rather have these resources go to your departments because you're provided testimony for a number of different states for five
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different states it would go to your departments so the states could decide where to apply the funds? rather than receive specific directives from washington where money is spent? >> absolutely, mr. chairman. >> you're here representing the interest of the transportation departments in five different states. what would you say is the principle concern of the rural states in developing the programs within the framework as described by the fast act? >> first it's important to note that the fast act struck a very good balance with respect to rural and urban interest and i want to thank congress for that. they did a great job of moving the fact act through and balancing urban and rural interest. there's also a concern but i think it's in a number of different states about the stop and go of the federal actions and the fast act as you know runs through 2020 which provides more stability than other recent authorizations yet as to the appropriations i think we're operating under a full year now of a continuing resolution which restricts our ability actually to plan for future projects. and in our state we just finished or we're working with our state legislature now and needed to ask for twice the amount of borrowing authority to than we would've otherwise to be able to cover some of those cost, cash flow needs for the projects as it relates to the continuing resolution.
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so in other states that's our state but in other states advanced construction and borrowing against state funds if available keep projects on schedule. that's one thing, the continuing resolution. the second is flexibility, program flexibility in delivering programs and projects is fairly complex and planning and program requirements sort of keep us -- keep multiplying and the performance management rules also add to that and so developing some ideas like we're doing here today in areas to improve program flexibility i and improve project delivery will help a great deal. those were just a couple of observations, continuing resolution and stop and go and program delivery. >> mr. mcnolte, you mentioned almost all of the water systems in west virginia serve populations fewer than 10 thousand people the like larger
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water systems these small systems still need to comply with complex federal regulations, with less administrative and technical expertise than the larger counter parts do. could you talk about what steps because we all want to make sure we don't sacrifice safety, what steps congress could take to simplify compliance because we don't want to sacrifice safety. >> i believe congress could allocate more funds for technical assistance in training, to help the smaller communities and the operators and administrators to ensure that they're able to be up on all of the regulations that come out of the epa and so forth and i believe that would really be the biggest benefit to have more dollars to go to technical assistance. >> senator carper. >> when was the last time
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wyoming raised their gas tax? >> not very long ago. >> 2013, right. >> three or four years ago. >> yeah. >> by ten cents. >> we did. >> did everybody that voted for that get thrown out of office? >> no. >> why not? >> the state and the citizens there saw a need for it. >> is there a lesson there for us in the congress? >> i'm sorry? >> is there a lesson for us in the congress? >> certainly in our state and in our particular state, it was necessary because of the changing economy in our state. our state went through and continues to go through an economic shift that is not repeated in many states but my friend to the left here in west virginia has had that as well. the state legislature saw that coming and they were able to support certain transportation projects by moving that forward. it was very difficult in the
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state legislature to move that forward but wyoming was very aware of it's impending future and we're proactive at being able to support that. >> we're scheduled to run out of money in the federal transportation trust fund in 2020. it's three years from now but just around the corner. thank you. west virginia, mr. mcnolte, former congressman from new york state with whom i served, actually it's another michael mcnolte but we're glad you're here. abe lincoln used to say the role of the government is do for people what they cannot do for themselves. what's the role of the federal government? >> to your recollection senator. the federal government's i see it as the obligation to ensure that the funds are available for any mandate that comes down the pipeline, for additional testing and water quality standards. i believe it's certainly the
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federal government's obligation to make sure that communities receive the funds in order to comply and no unfunded mandates. >> good. i'm going to ask you to answer for the record, not here because i don't have enough time, but the question i'm going to answer for the record, better results for less money, what are some things that we need to do? i think we tried to do that in the fast act. what are some other things we can do/should do between now and 2020 to enable you and all of us. if i had the time i would ask you to answer that on the record. i would ask for tony, it's great to see you guys. thank you so much for your service to our state and really to the united states. we have a road in delaware called i-95 i-25 i-25
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and that takes you to dover, and we have more routes there from delmarva into virginia. there is a bridge that goes over the inlet called the the indian river inlet. it is just north of bethany beach. it flows east/west with the tides. several bridges built there over time and we had to eventually replace the bridge because of scar that going on in the inland. when hurricane sandy came to town, it had an adverse effect on the bridge there. i wanted to ask tony and jaylen just take a minute, talk to us about the intersection of shoreline protection, dune protection and an infrastructure, major infrastructure investment, over $100 million. how did that intersect there? >> i'll start because i was responsible for that bridge during hurricane sandy, was driving toward route 1 and got a
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call from the governor and said on cnn he saw our new $250 million bridge washed away. instead of turning left, i turned right. i got down there and it turns out that the new bridge had not washed away, but it is the old bridge that had washed away, which is a pretty good justification for us to replacing the old bridge. it was a pretty, you know, those hurricanes, you know, and i remember when i first became the director -- secretary in delaware, three weeks after that, irene showed up. everyone told me hurricanes don't come here. they often veer off or go somewhere else. in my four years there, we had two hurricanes so something changed around that. the infrastructure is so critically important. what i was struck by is how once the land link was lost how incredibly impacted those communities were. and people trying to get out, get back in. their kids get to school.
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you know, i would just say that it just draws home the importance of investment in infrastructure and it's so incredibly important that we do make intelligent investments. >> my time's expired. thank you for that. i'll say to my colleagues, we spent a fortune on that new bridge. the next hurricane that comes along could further undermine that bridge if we don't invest in the dune protection and beach protection. one hand sort of washes the other. that's an important point i wanted to make. thank you. >> thank you, senator carper. senator inhofe. >> i have to tell you, when the tornadoes veer off, they come to oklahoma. first of all, i have something to submit for the record, mr. chairman. this is the largest coalition i've seen. this is a letter to president trump from over 500 organizations through almost everything in america. there's a level of popularity and ask that be admitted part of the record. >> without objection.
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>> you know, you've had a little bit of an advantage because you've had a lot of advice and counsel with gary ridley. i'm sure you and mr. panos both ridley, he's actually served as a witness before this committee more than anyone else in the history of this committee because he knows the subject. we've been able to pass a lot of good things and i think we have done some pretty creative thing. commissioner bobbit it's unique the challenges you face in very rural rural oklahoma and you have had to be creative can you expand on the funding challenges and give an example or two how you have gotten projects over the finish line with limited
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funds in your county? >> thank you for that country, grant county is very rural 4,500 people, with the most bridge miles in the state of oklahoma yet our funding is 63rd out of 77 counties, so we have a unique challenge, we worked as a partnership with the oklahoma department of transportation gary ridley and we came across when they were going to deconstruct the i-40 cross town bridge there were a lot of used beams there, beams that we could have our engineers inspect and look at and we recycled them so counties took ownership of all those 2,000 beams and brought them back to our county grant county brought back more than a thousand, since we have built
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ten more bridges and more to put in place as soon as we get the funding and talks about how important a partnership is, that was a state and local partship, we also would like to have that with the federal government to help us bring home projects. >> and as you know the president has talked about the public private partnership, is there any comment you can make how you have been successful in doing that in your area? >> the private partnerships will probably work really good for oklahoma and tulsa county but might not work so well for rural county, but we have municipal bonds tax exempt that we really do need to protect because we do use that financing to help us move those projects forward. >>ive had the advantage of dealing with these issues for 22 years in the nat and eight i can't years in the house on the
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committee, so i've been here for all those reauthorizations that we have had. in in in until the middle 90s we had too much surplus and we know now that we're in a crisis, but one of the things we have done, you addressed this mr. bhatt, a little more creative on things we could do in the bill in giving more power in the states and giving options for example on the enhancement percentages from state to state in california they may have different ideas than we have in oklahoma and how to use those and so we gave didn't states that option. what do you think about giving states more of those types of options and how you can stretch your dollars a little bit more
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mr. uppontis? >> i think anything we can do through those adjustments are very, very helpful. >> do you agree with that? this is a trend that we have started and we want to continue with this giving more of the options to the states and do you all pretty much agree that's moving in the right direction? >> thank you senator, yes, i would say one of the best parts of the fast act in addition to the certainty was the flexibility and i think it is incumbent on states to work with officials to make good decisions. we pass on and interact very closely with our local partners to make sure it is a colorado, del d delaware or oklahoma solution. >> thank you. senator duckworth. >> thank you mr. chairman, this question is for mr. pratt. the flint water crisis
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tranlicaltran tragically -- millions of families find themselves in real danger of drinking led contaminated water, not every community is satisfied with this status quo, local officials demonstrated in throwing away band aid fixes, and commit today a decade long structure project that included replacing every led service line in madison, when my constituents learn about it they don't understand why the children of wisconsin deserve greater protection than the children of illinois or delaware, that's why i think this congress needs to act swiftly and precisely for direct funding support far greater than our efforts to date, as a state official mr. pratt who must struggle daily meet the needs of
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your residents would you concur states such as delaware needs and put to good use direct critical infrastructure safe drinking water? >> i would turn to somebody with beach and -- water management not drinking water. it's not my world of expertise in water supply, but certainly the stories we hear from around the nation are compelling stories i think the over-arcing issue is we have an appetite of construction of new and not much for improvement of what we have built in the past and i think that's a philosophical issue that needs to change. >> not necessary water supply
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the people of illinois brought me with a message, we are willing and eager and ready to start working on sfinfrastructu, that's a unifying call on congress please work to modernize our nation's infrastructure make it a prior to whether it is roads, rail, simply put, illinoisans want congress to put a big bet on america, to we build and modernize infrastructure, we must make sure we succeed in the 21st century, this includes broadband, i have part of illinois where our kids can't do homework because they don't have access to broadband. we can't attract businesses because there's no broadband, so
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it's not just about the water or the bridge or the road, i do think there's a role for the federal government to come in in partnership with states, and i don't want to fall into the trap that oh, madison replaced their water supply and each can do their own, but how is the federal government coming in to help you be able to do this? >> in the world i work in, it's very imperative that the federal government take an unevolved position. home rule indicates will plan as best their community, that's across the board in industrial, recreational areas and commercial areas and when that fabric is built, if anything is in peril, it's usually the
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federal government that has to come out and bail out if there's a fire, or tornado, and the government has to respond after a catastrophe has occurred. it is the federal government that will have to come out and put the dollars up there. investment ahead of time before the disaster before the crisis has occurred is a important turning point we need to make and i believe absolutely the federal government has a tremendous amount to save by that investment. >> thank you for those comments. anybody on the panel. >> 70% of infrastructure dollars come from the federal go government, on the broadband comment, governor hicken looper has directed us to provide broadband i believe broadband are the new highways of the 21st
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century and very important for us in colorado as well. >> i'm out of time, thank you, i yield back mr. chairman. >> thank you. thank all of you. a couple of things, first of all, i would like for the record to thank you as a resident of charleston west virginia who was affected by the chemical spill into our primary water source, p putnam county water district came to the rescue of those who were without water. so-yeon so i don't know if you want to take a few seconds and respond to what you did. >> thank you. we were immediately in contact
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with governor tomlin and make sure his staff could start bringing in tankers, we have a fuel station located at our water treatment fiacility and w helped local folks fill their containers and so we did play an active role and so did many other rural counties a lot of folks helped out. >> well, your help was very much appreciated and i think west virginia rural counties are known for neighbors helping neighbors and y'all really helped us. in your experience at putnam in putnam county, are you looking more at extending new or replacing old? where's the push-pull there in terms of water infrastructure? >> both actually.
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we are expanding as i mentioned earlier in my testimony we just finished up a large sewer expansion to existing homes and businesses, but we are also very well aware of the maintenance that has to be done and up keep of our system, so we have expanded our water treatment plant as you know and have been there to see it, so we're still in that balance of doing both. >> is it easier to get funding for one or the other? >> i haven't had a difficult time obtaining funding for either one. >> okay. the other thing in your testimony you mentioned the -- we passed the word of bill last year as we were leaving and in that is a water infrastructure financing method similar to tifia for water ways and water projects, in my view this holds
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great promise i feel as though for another fund k mechanism for rural america and rural american water systems, you have expressed some skepticism about that would you like to speak about that? >> yes ma'am, the wifia will not work because you have to have bigger projects to qualify, our greatest concern is we do not want to see any funds from the drinking water srf go to fuwifi. i'm wondering if it would be possible for local smaller projects to band together for a wifia project, i don't know if that's within the boundaries of
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the law do you know that? >> i don't know we would have to get back to you on that senator. >> on the transportation issue, you mentioned in your statement the ppps don't work for rural areas. we have had some in mike's backyard route 35 that's been a ppp project that i don't think we're on -- we're on the verge of getting it completed now, but wouldn't have if we had not had your state d.o.t. to use the triple projects, why is that not working in rural america? is it the scale or what? >> are generally in the rural states we don't have the revenue generations that would support a public-private partnership concept, but other financing systems we could look at, but direct funding works best for us, it's been worked out a number of years and at least in
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rural states it works very well for us, it's based on the type of volumes. >> can your state sell bonds to begin paying on a payback so you can get the project done earlier, they're call garvy bonds, don't ask me the acronym, i don't know what it stands for. >> we have used them, and it's through the federal government, the comment earlier i think was made about the ten cent fuel tax passed some four to five years ago, that only pays less than 20% of the cost of surface transportation, the vast majority comes from the federal government. >> thank you. >> senator fischer. >> thank you mr. chairman. like many of my colleagues i believe the importance of funding infrastructure and
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reliable infrastructure does represent a critical investment in advancing our safety and commerce, the highway trust fund has served to equitably to fund both rural and urban and is the linchpin of our transportation system, the congrexle budget office projects will face a deficit well over $1 billion following the fast act expiration, that's why i introduced the act which address the issue without raising taxes on hardworking americans, i would like to ask mr. panos and mr. bhatt, how important is funding to your state's system and when it comes to bridges and roads is there any substitute to
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this critical funding, mr. bhatt would you like to start, please? >> thank you, funding certainty is everything. i do conservative talk radio, it's not always a love fest but i think it's important for government to talk to all of our constituents, and when somebody says why didn't you stop this project at point x, all you had to do was follow it 20 more miles, but based on the transportation need and the financial need, one of the best parts about the fast act was continuing resolutions around funding, if we have certainty around funding then we can make better plans and it costs states and all tax payers money when we have certainty. >> mr. wyoming and surface
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transportation i think certainly the idea of certainty in federal funding is very important to us, very, very conservative in terms how we look at financing our system, our system is not being expanded as we speak, it's being preserved so we are just getting in enough money to preserve the system that we have now, our 2,000 bridges and 7,000 miles of road. so the proposal that identifies the proposal that you're talking about identifies that you're referring to identifies a couple of things identifies that the highway trust fund is not going to be a consistent source of funding after 2020 and that's critically important to us because we're not expanding the investment has already been made the by the federal government and it looks at the regulatory review of the projects and looks at how time consuming that is and the need to im pro-that and so we support both of those things those are things i think
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not only wyoming but other rural states would agree with so it's good that you stepped up an to put some of those ideas front an center for us to look at. how we go about that obviously we'll work with congress over the next few months to develop but i think they're solid ideas but we like colorado are looking for consistency. >> thank you for your compliment of the proposal. i think it's really important to identify a consistent revenue source without raising taxes at the federal level to be able to fund beyond maintenance because we all need to make sure we have that capacity in the future as well. and you mentioned a second part of my proposal that really addresses the critical delays that projects are faced when they have to wait for that federal government approval. i can tell you that my state has spent time and money on those
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burdensome federal highway administration processes that really don't change any outcomes. moving forward. for example we're looking at upgrading a sub standard dodge s curve project in omaha and has seen cost grow by $3 billion. in this infrastructure act it's built on a proposal that i have able to get advanced in the state of nebraska that's proofed successful and hopefully we will be able to have a conversation on that here, mr. panos, i believe the greater state authority over the approval process is going to because we have shown that it's go i think
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to move that approval process forward without really taking short cuts we're still going to meet the requirements that are there, but i think it's a better system to put in place and a better use of tax payer dollars, would either of you like to address that just on the delays you face going through the federal highway administration? >> thank you, senator. i'm quite torn on the answer that i give you, and i say this with all respect. as a director of d.o.t.s have fought with the federal highway administration to try and expedite projects. over the years when we were ready to go on something, so on the one hand expediting projects is very good, we have a being project 1.2 viaduct replacement
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in def in denver over a decade in planning process, and people say that took 13 years, how ridiculous, there's a school behind the project, if my children went to that school i wouldn't want a state d.o.t. to move right behind you. one of the federal requirements we have to follow when we take property, there are 63 homes moved, so as the state d.o.t. person i would love for there to be fewer regulations as someone impacted by the project i think some of the federal regulations do serve a purpose. >> and i wouldn't disagree with you on that but i think if we could expedite that would always be a saving. i apologize i'm over my time, thank you mr. chairman. >> senator rounds. >> thank you mr. chairman. it isn't often in a committee
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like that we can talk about what we want to see in the future, you heard the president saying that infrastructure is critical, members on both sides of the aisle saying the time is now how we do infrastructure in the united states coming up. and i want to take this a at a different level instead of rules and regulations, the former governor recognized how to make good decisions, they see issues we don't see in south dakota, they're concerned about rising water levels, we're concerned about things of rural development of basic infrastructure of delivering rural water, we have programs that the state has fully funded their fair share of it yet the government hasn't got enough money and the cost is going up and we have people that don't have water available.
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we have other water systems in the state the state basically they don't have the money to do maintenance and haven't quite filled them out yet. for a minute what i would like to do as individuals that have a clear understanding from the state and local level the opportunities and capabilities that you have, i want to reach out, let's make a couple of assumptions that perhaps a lot of people in this country would say never will come true, a lot of people say we're talking about la la land or fairy land but let's say republicans and democra democrats agreed on a bill, number two that congress kmu actually agreed differently than in the past agreed on how to pay the funding bill and how to
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distribute back to states and local units of government, let's say we had the foresight to talk not just roads and bridges, but broadband clearly important and perhaps give some opportunities for states and local units of government to haof flexibility where some states actually had some skin in the game, somewhat of the highway fund. i know i'm making major stretches here but let's say we have a number of projects ports of entry long the border whether you're talking about coasts roads bridges so forth, this is the opportunity to -- what the
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government put in place. can i ask each of you i don't care in which order can i ask you for a few seconds of what would you do with the resources if you had that shot. what could you do to make it better for the people that live in your area? >> yes, senator if i could start, for us in wyoming certainly with surface transportation which i'm speaking about today we would implement more safety projects, safety is our number one issue, if we can develop additional safety projects and put them on the ground whether it be construction of additional lanes or other kind of safety systems we would, we are maintaining what we have. and that's what we have dollars for right now. we have a great relationship with the federal highway administration, a great relationship with our federal partners. >> could you start it fairly quickly?
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>> we could and we have plans to put in place because of our great relationship with the federal highway administration and others so from a surface transportation, we would focus on safety, we're a safety agency, probably more than a transportation agency we're a safety agency. thank you senator. >> we would expand water distribution systems and waste water systems and build facilities for treatment as well. for instance we have a project in our hometown putnam county, we have folks that have to haul water back to their home systems, we have applied for a small city's block grant for the last five years, and if last five years they have been turned down. it's designed and would be ready to go the day after the funding got in place. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator.
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we would probably look at our off system privilebridge system because we want to make sure that the routes were brought up to standards and we could do that pretty quick . we have engineering on brings, we have several projects ready to go. thank you. >> my perspective is very different. i'm not a highway transportation planner, but looking it out of the box that you presented is very dizzying. >> that's why i called it fairytale. >> first of all the first thing we need as a nation is a better informed discussion how we invest in a decade sense, i hate to say i was an elected official in delaware in a small town and we tend to make decisions on a
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two and four year and six terms, i understand where the friends are where the vulnerabilities are, so on untethered so we have to have a much better decisionmaking process. >> we lost 35,092 americans on the roads last year, 10% increase the last couple years so i would say safety would be number one project. it would go a long way to saving american lives. >> thank you. >> senator whitehouse. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate our guests from west virginia, wyoming, and
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colorado, but you failed the share one of rhode island's attributes which is a coastline, you are all landlocked so i would like to address our guest from delaware who like rhode island shares a coastline. in rhode island we have sewage treatment plants that have as we face rising seas along our shores move first into the flood zone and now into velocity zones for storms. after a major storm, i far too often have to go and talk to a family who is looking at the remnants of their home that has been torn into the sea by the storm activity. we have coastal roads that are at risk of either destruction or flooding and in many cases the coastal road is the access to a community, which creates very
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significant emergency services risks and as where mapping more effectively where storm and sea level will be intruding we're finding more and more that the emergency services are on the wrong side of the flooding area. i think people remember the scenario in senator booker's state of new jersey where they couldn't bring the fire equipment in because of sandy and nobody to fight the fire, so we have those concerns. i have seaside restaurants, places like terra's and the ocean mist, not long ago had 100 feet of beach and people would play volleyball and now they have pile washing ups under
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their buildings, having to move backyards as we yield more an more of our coastline to the shore and something equivalent to the storm of 1938 that really nailed rhode island the 10 inches of sea level rise we have already seen the 9 feet of sea level rise that our state and federal experts tell us to expect by the end of the century 2 feet in added tied when the moon and stars all line up so you get an astro nomical king
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tied. we get this rising sea level and the storm surge that compromises our coastlines, delaware, i know let me turn it over to you to comment. i think you have even lower elevation than we do and a lot of these similar coastal problems i visited there with senator coons to here from your experts and i know he is aware of rhode island's because his dad who sadly just a passed away was head of the fishery -- >> i appreciate the opportunity to address it. i'm from boston area originally, i know the new england coast lined you have a lot betterty p -- -- topography, one foot of sea level would be hundreds of feet in land intrusion direction.
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the nfip is producing much better maps that inform us where the risks are going to be and where they are, and we can use those to how to remove critical infrastructure to better places i think a indication of where it will be at in the future where the tied is two to three feet above proaddictedicted we can me the intrusion areas are, that's part of the discussion i think we're going here today which is looking at how we manage the coastline to provide the protection we have, and what we learned in sandy, i think if we expand that out to the southeast, the west coast and gulf coast that kind of systems thinking, and i think one thing that ties my colleagues is in the more urbanized areas we have
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tremendous congestion and tractor-trailers on the roads, truck traffic from pedestrian or automobiles for other use and i think that's a way it's coming to the future, i think we're going to have to look at how the water ways of this nation have to be returned as a means by which we get better transportation and goods to the coastal area and that means port management, if it has to accommodate larger ships and more ships and better ship, but restoring beaches, wet lands and we have some institutional block aids but i know we have to move on, i'm running out of time. >> this isn't a question that requires an answer -- one of the things we have discovered in
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rhode island as we have developed the tools to be able to anticipate what storm surge and rising seas present by way of risks to us is that the fema mapping of this has been frankly outright defective and that as we look at it, we find that fema is unable to replicate when it has to go back and do it again, the results it claims are solid. if you can't go back and replicate a result it's probably not very solid. we see them making premise decisions in their mapping that don't make any sense. we see them operating off of facts that are provably not accurate and we find people put into flood zones that aren't really going to be flood zones in which case they have to buy insurance that may not be necessary, but far worse you find people who are not being told they're in a flood zone and
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the discrepancies between what our universities and coastal resources center are doing and what the fema maps show are considerable and i hope some of our more coastal folks might join together and take a hard look at that, because a lot of people are going to be let down by defective erroneous flood mapping. >> thanks for being here today, this really has been a helpful discussion. and we have a number of members that come from those coastal areas and is a great discussion. what i want to point out in my question and i'll start with you mr.macknalty a federal government one size fits all doesn't work, i come from iowa, i am landlocked, i don't have ocean front property and let me dig into why i think there needs to be a little bit of difference
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in the federal government. one of iowa's top infrastructure priorities is flood mitigation. we heard a little bit about flood mitigation here. our second biggest city in iowa went through two major flood events 2008 and 2016 and to date they have not received any construction funds despite being authorized in the 2014 bill and again mentioned as a prior to in the 2016 bill. a few months ago i had meeting with the head of the core, they used to budget flood mitigation projects, i expressed communities like cedar rapids iowa and states like iowa will likely never see federal assistance from the corp. because they lose out every time to larger states that have higher property values and thus
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higher economic benefit. i'm really interested in improving these metrics so our rural communities have a fighting chance into tapping into corp. expertise because if the only metric the corp. uses is the economic benefit of a project is property value then it's hard for me to conclude that building beaches or not to conclude that building beaches in front of multimillion ocean front homes to be a higher prior to than protecting the people that live in iowa. it was also suggested to me in my meeting with the corp. that because iowans have a pick yourself up by the bootstraps attitude and work well in our communities to properly mitigate we move farther down the list of prior to and we are basically being penalized for being proactive, so my question for
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you mr. mcnalty is how can we work together to give our rural communities a fighting chance at federal funds? >> perhaps my colleague mr. pratt might be able to answer that just a little better than i can when it comes to flood mitigation. >> okay. i'm willing to listen. thank you. >> certainly i'm coming from one of those states that has rich valuable ocean front properties and i certainly understand the position you're coming from, in my dealing with the corp. with ocean front, there is a lack of funding to do even the work that we have to do. we do get a lot of money and as my tm indicated there's a tremendous return on that investment. and i don't think that the corp.'s metrics right now take into account the full range of benefits in any front of
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flooding whether it's ocean or gulf coast or river reen or snow pack melting in the sierras this coming spring, i don't think the metrics are there, i don't think the corp. has the ability to give informed discussion as to the full range of benefits. my understanding of the corp. process what they have been through in delaware is they look at not the personal property value but look at the infrastructure risk, the density, the utilities the roads water ways electrical delivery system and what the over all affect is if that fails during a storm and we not only have stillwater flooding, in the case of sandy, had we only had stillwater flooding, it would have been a totally different thing when you have 3 foot waves washing into structures and
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falls into the next and next and next, so i think the corp. needs a -- on how the an lit ticks of it prove, the corp.'s process of deliberation and how they benefit the cost ratio, that's what they predicate their spending on. >> absolutely. >> if you're at the high tipping of that you're going to get funding and if you're at the lower end you're not going to get fupd funding, up to the penny are all calculated right down to the penny. the benefits we probably leave 50 to 80% of them on the table. i think we need better information. >> i think so. i think the one size fits all approach isn't working because every community is different, if we see all the federal funding going to areas on the coast it's really hard for me to go back home an justify why the safet
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of people of cedar rapids is not as important as the people and livelihood of people who live on the coast. thank you. >> thank you, senator booker. >> i concur with my colleague and friend from iowa, this is a valuable discussion and i really do appreciate it. i have really big concerns about our nation's water infrastructure. especially as it affects rural areas in the america as well as some other poor areas. it's the kind of thing that private sector incentives don't provide to be built out. as a result of that you see real challenges for families around this country about getting access to clean safe water. and so maybe i'll start with michael mcnalty, you talked in your testimony that we have families in many parts of this country and i believe in west
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virginia as well as new jersey that lack the proper facilities according to the census bureau when it comes to these water facilities they say 500,000 hoems around the country lack access, the richest country in the plant earth lack access to hot or cold running water, bathtub, shower, or working flushing toilet. that's astonishing data, and 11,000 homes in new jersey, portions of rural alabama, promptly black communities, less than half the population is connected to a municipal water system. many septic systems fail and forced to dump sewage behind their homes which brings up a lot of very serious health problems in addition to detaining it. this is the leading spread of intestinal parasites such as hook worm. a lot of these parasites are not
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thought to exist but do exist n these rural areas, i was a mary yo -- mayor, it's difficult to fu fund base just on loans, especially in places that don't have high revenue streams and tax base that can support the work, i think we need more grants. a state can use no more than 30% that it receives on the direct water grants, would you support removing that 30% cap and letting states provide more clean water grants to communities with demonstrated financial need? >> absolutely.
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let's remove those restrictions. >> what if we were able to remove that restrictions can you give an idea what impact that would have for the struggling rural and urban cash strapped communities? >> you know, in west virginia as many folks know, you know, we have a $500 million deficit in our budget coming up and with the decline in the economy especially with the coal severance tax. by removing that restriction and possibly even lengthing the time of the loan to be paid back communities could do so much more, we wouldn't have to rely on a partner so much where they are cash strapped so it had a tremendous benefit across the country. >> i know as me while i was
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mayor even lowering the cost of loans helped us do a lot of projects but for you and my last question bill panos, there's a lot of talk about a trillion dollars infrastructure package right now. my worry is that if that's much more about low interest loans and not about direct grants and the thing i know for those of us who are concerned about debt and deficits that we have to understand that investments and infrastructure create a multiplier economic growth so i want to know maybe if last 20 or so seconds i have, would you comment on the power of having infrastructure package that included direct federal investment not just loan programs, would you say it's important to have a balance especially for areas that can't afford even the low interest loans that would need some federal resources invested in their communities.
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>> speaking for service transportation and in rural states, yes direct investment does help especially with states that have like rural states like wyoming that have low volumes an don't have the kind of revenue generation that other states do, so yes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator booker. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thank you ranking member, for having this very, very important meeting. we appreciate you all being here. miss bobbit as one of arkansas's largest industry, agriculture is crucial to the economy, enjoying $20 billion a area and employing one out of every 26 ar kansakan.
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can you explain how reliable and infrastructure system helps industries such as the agricultural industry remain competitive? >> thank you for that question. excellent question. >> we like you -- as your neighbor. >> you're right. yes, if you will think of the united states map and consider it a puzzle and each piece of the puzzle is a county, and that's 3,069 pieces in that puzzle and it connects and the puzzle if you take a piece out of that puzzle it's not complete. well it's the same thing with our roads and our bridges. and we all have to connect because while we grow the agriculture products in our states or rural county it is, it has to be delivered to the urban
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areas so it's very important that we all work as a partnership and make sure we can deliver our foods and fiber to the urban area, it's not rural versus urban, we are in this together, we are one pizece of the puzzle. >> what's the repercussions of a failed strategy now, you can have great roads in oklahoma or water ways but if you can't get there or out of there it really does all go together. >> that's correct. we don't have blue roads and we don't have red roads, we have roads and bridges so it needs to be the same trucks that come down the enter states and highways get off on our county roads and we have get to get our food and fiber out of the rural
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counties. >> what america is going to have to do as far as feeding the world 20-25 years as we go forward. mr. mcnalty, according to a recent michigan state report water prices have arisen 41% since 2010 which is an amazing statistic. 46% of house holds is predicted not to be able to afford water services in the next years, what kind of affect will rising water prices have on a rural state such as arkansas? >> it will be hard. it will be hard for the citizens because they'll be required to cut back, so you're going -- you're in a catch 22, the water
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system is like i can't make my debt payment so we're going to have to continue to raise rates so i think it will be a very challenging time for rural water systems. >> so i guess tell me about in the next infrastructure bill that we do, do you feel like it's important then to address affordability? >> absolutely. affordability has to be one of the primary factors when considering when you are funding a project in this country. what can people afford? we talk about folks that already have portable water and sanitation and folks that don't have any at all, no access and those folks are typically going to be in rural america, much
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lower income. >> so we're really in a catch 22 situation as you mentioned, you again, the epa sometimes rightfully so, sometimes very, very aggressively trying to get the last little bit out that's so expensive as far as our point sources and things that raises rates as you make it such as you remedy that, but then as you point out you're in a situation where people actually don't use as much water and so then that raises rates further. >> it certainly can. >> uh-huh, very much. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator cardin. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank all of our witnesses. to me this is one of the most important subjects we have to deal with is an area where we can get democrats and republicans working with this administration to get things done and as senator carper pointed out in opening comments
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we're not proud we get a d in infrastructure, when you go to industrial world and see the way they deal with transportation versus the way we do we need to invest more, i think the number is $1.6 billion the engineers say we need in regards to our surface transportation. mr. chairman i want to under score the point you made in your opening statement with rural areas versus urban areas, the program now which has been rolled into the overall surface transportation programs is absolute lit vital for jobs creation in maryland, it is important for west virginia, pennsylvania and maryland is comm critical to their economic future. there's an initial cost but you get it back by economic growth.
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i-81 which is very important for the washington county part of western maryland is a vital link in which we are trying to get some fast lane grants for but we need more money, with senator carper on the eastern shore of maryland i think he would agree with me that a lot of people want to get to our beaches and there's a real issue of safety getting to the eastern shore of virginia and delaware and they're expensive to do these highway projects an we need to do it. in the urban areas we have our challenges i live in one of the most congested corridors of the country, literally in the world. the northeast corridor. and we need to invest in ways to deal with this. i want to get senator carper down here easier than his amtrak ride every day, we could make that a little faster for him if
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we had modern high speed rail. it was interesting, it was senator moynihan back in the 1990s for the inclusion of mag bill, japan system that carries many thousands of passengers of world record speeds at 361 miles per hour and now planning more between tokyo and hasaka so carry 100,000 passengers, i mention that because that's what they're doing and we're stuck with technology that's really kind of old, so we do need the capacity to modernize our infrastructure program. i know the prime minutes will be here and he's going to talk with the president to advance technology to help our northeast corridor in dealing with some of these issues, so there are real opportunities here, let me take
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remaining time mr. pratt to go over the water issues and i agree with senator boseman, affordability is a key issue, the number i have is about 655 billion over the next twenty years to modernize our waste water and clean water supplies, we have about 240,000 water main breaks a year, costing literally billions of dollars in waste. if you're talking about affordability then you need support, public support to deal with the water infrastructure. if you put it all in the rates or look for public-private partnership which i'm for but there's going to be a cost if you can make money off the projects so we need a stronger commit. for resolving funds, et cetera to modernize our water
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infrastructure, without making it an excessive burden on the families that can't afford it and i would like to get your experiences that you have seen. >> i'm coming at this from a perspective of a natural resource manager, but certainly is within the realm of what my sphere of exposure is involved in i think it's an over arcing issue of the ignorance that we have put ourselves in at the federal and state level. we have ignored problems we have known a long time, whether it's a coastal hazard, we have exposure to a number of risks, certainly water supply, water distribution, transportation systems, i don't think we have informed the public well enough. the imperative is not out there to the degree it should be to get a public movement behind
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that investment and i think we have to tell the story better. my reaction is basically we need to be very gut honest about how imvershhed -- >> i appreciate delaware's leadership on that. how we deal with waste water is very much critical factor in how we deal with chesapeake bay, dealing with shorelines the way erosion takes place is part of this over all strategy, thank you. >> thank you. senator sanders. >> thank you mr. chairman and thank you for holding this very important meeting in a increasingly contentious environment. i would hope very much on this issue there could be a coming together to address what almost everybody understands is
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national crisis, so thank you very much for holding the hearing and i look forward to working with you. let me just talk about vermont additional investment of $700 million a year to get into a state of good repair. vermont. small state. the only reason vermont is now in 28th place in the nation is because we have to rebuild after hurricane irene. which knocked out a lot of our bridges and our roads. we invested a lot. i could hope we would go forward in rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure not as a result of disasters but being proactive. we are the richest country in the history of the world. we used to lead the world. in cutting edge infrastructure. we were number one. that is no longer the case. we are behind many other countries. the result of that is loss of
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productivity. the result of that is the loss of safety. too many accidents occur because of a crumbling infrastructure. the result of that is loss of economic potential in jobs. when we talk about rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges and water systems and waste water plants, i had the opportunity to be in flint, michigan a year or so ago. what i saw there made me disbelieve that i was living in the united states of america. but it's not only the water in flint, michigan. we have failing water systems all over this country. we used to lead the world in terms of our rail. today we are behind japan, behind china and many other countries. mr. chairman, i think there is bipartisan agreement we have not invested in our infrastructure. i think there is bipartisan
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understanding that when we invest we create jobs. a couple of years ago i brought forth legislation called the rebuild america act. i proposed a trillion dollar investment at that point that was thought by republicans and democrats to be a wild and crazy idea. i'm glad i think there is an understanding that given the depth of the problem, given what they tell us in terms of a need to invest 1.6 trillion is in fact a reasonable amount of money. and when we do this not only do we create a nation that is more productive and safer, we also create up to 15 million jobs and jobs in areas where we need them. one of the areas certainly in rural america has to do with broadband. i want to put in a plug for broadband as part of our
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infrastructure with the understanding that in a small town in wyoming or a small town in vermont, you're not going to attract businesses. kids are not going to be able to do well in school unless we have access to high quality broadband. so this is a proposal that makes sense in many levels. i think there's bipartisan support. where the difference of opinion is going to come, i think, which is outside of the jurisdiction of this committee is how we fund a trillion dollars. i am not sympathetic to giving huge tax breaks to wall street or the large multi-national corporations who invest in our infrastructure. that is not the way we should be going in my view. i think interest rates are very low now. i think it is appropriate that in a nation which is spending $650 billion on the military, yes, over a ten-year period we can invest $1 trillion in rebuilding our infrastructure which will pay for itself by job creation and increased tax revenue.
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i would like to ask one -- and i apologize for not hearing any of your comments, but maybe the gentleman from wyoming about the needs of rural america. wyoming is different from vermont but we're both rural states. where would you like to see infrastructure investment going? >> i can speak for surface transportation in wyoming and say that any proposal that brings forward something that we can take advantage of as a rural state is a positive thing. p-3s and other kinds of borrowing doesn't work in wyoming, doesn't work in rural states because we simply do not have the revenue generation to be able to support that kind of thing. any proposals that move forward are helpful. the second thing i would say is the existing formula system, the formulaic system for delivering those dollars to rural states works and yes, there could be improvements in project delivery. there could be improvements in
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having flexibility for states. but those systems do work. enhancing monies to those existing delivery systems would be very positive for rural states like wyoming. >> thank you. let me ask you this. in vermont with a few exceptions, we are expanding it a little bit, if you live in a more rural area and you want to get to work in a more urban area, i use those in quotes because our largest city is 40,000, the only way to do is it by automobile. i think we need to build up a rural bus system as well. do you have problems with that in wyoming? can people get to work in other ways than through an automobile? >> through our federal funding programs we have transit program through the department of transportation that connects us, the state government, with our local governments. counties and cities. to provide senior transportation. >> just senior. but if i'm a worker and i want
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to get to work other than by automobile, in vermont that's hard to do. is that the case in wyoming as well? >> it is hard but not impossible. we also have private sector agreements with some of our largest energy producers that also have transportation for their workers to come from cities. >> you can watch all of this hearing at, just search infrastructure funding. we'll leave this now and take you live to the white house for the briefing with sean spicer. >> -- as you saw, he's a good opportunity to sit down with his team. it clearly had has been a busy day here at the white house again. so i'm going to keep it quick and get to your questions. this morning, after receiving his daily intelligence briefing, the president met with secretary of state tillerson. as you all now, secretary tillerson and secretary kelly will travel to mexico city later today as one of their first foreign trips. it is significant the that the president is sendinghe


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