Senator who advocates FMCSA reform calls for long-term highway $

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska) has emerged as one of the leaders of the trucking reform movement in Washington, and is an advocate for long-term funding for infrastructure repair and replacement. She has been a vocal critic of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and called for numerous reforms in the agency.

Fischer today released an op/ed piece addressing the need for a long-term fix as Congress faces a Friday deadline to have a new funding solution in place. Here, in part, is what she said:

Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer

“Americans are all too familiar with roadblocks – from potholes and road closures to “expect delays” signs and detours. Studies show that nearly two-thirds of our nation’s roads are in unsatisfactory condition, and at least a quarter of America’s bridges must be replaced. In fact, a report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute converts these problems into costs, finding that Americans lose approximately $121 billion each year to traffic, fuel, and lost productivity.

“Congress has the opportunity to do this and keep our country moving by passing a long-term transportation bill. The legislation, known as the DRIVE Act, would allow for a six-year highway authorization.

“When it comes to major infrastructure projects, our states deserve certainty from Washington. We must keep America’s motorists safe while maintaining our infrastructure. Unfortunately, Congress has routinely failed to provide certainty for planning and safety avoiding the tough choices that a responsible federal government needs to make. Instead of doing a long-term bill, Congress has passed 34 short-term bills since 2009.

“That is why I have championed meaningful provisions in the DRIVE Act to streamline the environmental permitting process for new projects. Right now, a new project must clear a variety of hurdles before builders can start construction. The DRIVE Act would establish new procedures, which are based on a template developed by the Transportation Secretary, to allow states and the federal government to determine which agencies must be consulted before launching a project.

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“The bill also includes important reforms to strengthen the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s regulatory process. This agency governs safety regulations for all commercial vehicles. Through the DRIVE Act’s reforms, we can enhance safety by strengthening cost-benefit analysis at the agency and ensure more public participation in the process.”