Infrastructure projects need funding nowFirst published in the Fargo-Moorhead Forum on December 9.

By Rich Goldsbury, President Bobcat/Doosan N.A. & Australia/Oceania

Last summer, in a letter published in The Forum, I wrote that our country needed a multi-year surface transportation bill that gives states and businesses the certainty they need to make planning and investment decisions.

As a supporter of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers’ “I Make America” initiative, Bobcat Company and Doosan have partnered with AEM in their efforts to improve American manufacturing policies and to create more jobs in the United States. The improvement of our nation’s transportation infrastructure is a significant focus of this initiative, and it’s one that is very important to Bobcat Company and Doosan, and to North Dakota.

Last December we were pleased to see President Obama sign the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, which is to provide $305 billion over fiscal years 2016 through 2020 for highway, highway and motor vehicle safety, public transportation, motor carrier safety, hazardous materials safety, rail, research, technology, and statistics programs. It’s the first federal law in more than a decade to provide long-term funding for surface transportation infrastructure planning and investment.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., all voted in favor of the FAST Act. I recently had the opportunity to thank them for that vote, and to remind them how important long-term — and stable — funding for transportation infrastructure is to U.S. manufacturing.

The FAST Act is a good start to addressing our country’s significant long-term infrastructure needs, but it’s only a start. We encourage Congress to quickly address transportation appropriations for the upcoming fiscal year to ensure that there are no delays in funding allocations, and to support the language in the House passed bill that ensures full funding of the FAST Act.

We’ve asked our congressional representatives to continue supporting funding for transportation infrastructure — including continued support and funding for the FAST Act, restoring the purchasing power of the gas tax and maintaining the user-fee principle — and other efforts that can help bring the quality of our infrastructure back to safe and acceptable standards. We’d also like to see the Highway Trust Fund sustainably financed so that it doesn’t have to continue to endure unnecessary funding crises.

A safe, modern infrastructure system is one of the most important needs to support economic growth today. As I noted last year, every $1 billion invested in U.S. highways supports 27,823 jobs and generates $6.2 billion of economic activity. The U.S. infrastructure system ranks only 23rd in the world, and we are rapidly falling behind. There is a pressing need for dramatic improvement and a clear economic incentive for investing in that improvement.

We applaud Sen. Hoeven, Sen. Heitkamp and Rep. Cramer for their votes in support of the FAST Act. We ask them to redouble their efforts to ensure FAST Act funds get where they are needed as soon as possible.