Ribble Saves Transit, Leads Historic Initiative to Cut Red Tape
Washington, D.C. – Representative Reid Ribble (WI-08), a member of the House Transportation Committee and Transportation Conference Committee, released the following statement on the bipartisan H.R. 4348, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Conference Report, which passed the House today by a vote of 373-52. The most recent short-term extension is set to expire on June 30, 2012. This is the first time in seven years that a long-term transportation bill has passed.
“I was honored to be one of the few Freshman and only member from Wisconsin to serve on the Conference Committee to craft this long-term transportation bill. I have been outspoken on the importance of building and maintaining a strong and reliable transportation system and I’m glad that both parties and both chambers found common ground on this important issue. After three years of stop and start extensions, I’m happy that we can finally move forward with a bipartisan, multi-year highway bill that will restore some much-needed certainty in our economy.
“I am particularly proud of the work we’ve done to streamline and speed up construction projects. A few weeks back, I offered an amendment in the House to cut the bureaucratic red tape that prevents building roads and bridges in a timely and cost effective manner. Our environmental streamlining language makes great strides in reducing the duplicative permitting requirements that slow down important projects.
“The Conference Report also includes several other provisions that will greatly benefit the people of Wisconsin. I worked to help keep small transit systems like Green Bay Metro and Valley Transit up and running so they can continue serving our communities. I also fought to increase Wisconsin’s percentage of highway funding from the original House-passed bill so that Wisconsinites get their fair share. This will ensure that municipalities and road builders in our state have the resources they need to move projects forward and jump start local economies.
“It’s been a long road to this point. A sound infrastructure goes hand in hand with a sound economy, and I’m glad that we finally reached this historic agreement that puts an end to the status quo of short-term, uncertain extensions.”
Praise for Rep. Ribble’s work on the Transportation Bill
Executive Director Pat Goss, Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association (WTBA)
“Rep. Ribble and his staff listened to the concerns of transportation stakeholders throughout this process and worked in a bipartisan manner to reach an agreement that serves the needs of the state and his district.”
Mayor Tim Hanna of Appleton
“We applaud Representative Ribble’s commitment and dedication to finding a solution to our federal funding issue related to the 2010 Census. Without his work on the transportation conference committee, the very existence of public transportation in the Fox Cities was in jeopardy. This bill gives us time to work on long-term sustainable funding solutions so that our riders can continue to rely on Valley Transit to get to jobs, school, medical appointments and other daily needs.”
Bill Bruins, President of Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation
“Congressman Ribble was an integral part of clarifying the agricultural hours of service provision and we are extremely appreciative for his advocacy. He has been a champion of common sense legislation both within the context of the farm bill and in the transportation highway bill conference committee. Wisconsin agriculture is in capable hands with Congressman Ribble.”
Key Wisconsin Provisions in H.R. 4348
- Formula Funding. The Conference Report ensures that Wisconsin will continue to receive its share of the overall pie. For Fiscal Year 2013, each state will receive the same amount of funding that it received in Fiscal Year 2012.
- Transit Operating Assistance. The Conference Report ensures that small transit systems like Green Bay and Valley Transit will be able to use a portion of their federal dollars for much-needed operating assistance. It corrects a problem that would have classified cities like Appleton and Green Bay—both have populations of more than 200,000 but operate less than 20 buses during peak hours—in the same category as large metropolitan areas such as Chicago and New York.
- Project Streamlining. The bill includes landmark reforms to streamline project delivery requirements.
- The language puts in place hard deadlines within the project review process to eliminate duplicative steps and cuts the process in half in some cases.
- The language exempts projects that receive minimal federal funding from certain requirements.
- The language allows for roads, bridges, and highways damaged in emergencies to be repaired and reconstructed quickly.
- Agriculture Hours of Service Exemption: The bill includes language to clarify the Hours of Service exemptions for agricultural products, ensuring that Wisconsin farmers can haul their products in a timely manner without excessive burdens.
- Metropolitan Planning Organizations: The bill ensures that existing metropolitan planning organizations can continue to be designated as MPOs.