Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure stopped by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh Monday, speaking with members about the recent passage of the surface transportation bill (MAP-21), what other legislation he expects to see in 2013, and how to make transportation issues a priority moving forward.
"I believe we're at a tipping point," Shuster said to the audience Monday. "We all know what we're dealing with in terms of our transportation system. We're going to have to make investments in transportation and we're going to need your help to do what the country needs."
Shuster touched upon various transportation modes, including rail, waterways, air, and highways, highlighting the need to have an entire transportation system that works across the board. The challenge, however, was how to pay for the necessary improvements.
Shuster wrapped up his time with AASHTO members by encouraging them to establish and maintain strong relationships with their Representatives and Senators now instead of waiting until the next transportation bill to engage them. He also encouraged state transportation department officials to educate the public to the best of their ability on what's needed transportation-wise in their communities as well as what it takes to pay for those projects.
AASHTO Executive Director John Horsley thanked Shuster for coming and providing insight.
"I am really happy to have you here so that we may thank you in addition to [House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee] Chairman [John] Mica, Sen. [Barbara] Boxer, and the committee for giving us MAP-21," Horsley said. "MAP-21 is the most state-friendly bill we've seen in generations and I think we're all blown away by what you've said about the importance of growing and expanding our transportation network. We all thank you."