Supporting What Keeps America Moving

July 31, 2020
Weekly Columns

You’ll be hard pressed to read many headlines on American infrastructure, and I doubt most of us think about it on a regular basis. Yet our infrastructure is what keeps us moving, from the roads we drive to the waterways that transport goods. Without it, our economy would immediately cease to function. As we rebuild after COVID-19, a reliable infrastructure is absolutely necessary.

We took a big step toward this goal on July 29, when the House of Representatives passed the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (WRDA). As the lead Republican on the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, this is a bill that I’ve worked on for the past year and a half. When severe flooding hit Arkansas last year, the historic rains breached many of our levees and devasted our water infrastructure, destroying homes and farmland. We need legislation like WRDA to shore up our infrastructure, improve navigable waterways and ensure people across America are safe from flood threats. WRDA’s passage in the House brings it even closer to being signed into law.

Another critical infrastructure development is the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (ROUTES) Initiative. According to DOT, two-thirds of rail freight originates in rural areas, and nearly half of all truck vehicle-miles-traveled occur on rural roads. Despite this heavy usage of rural areas, nearly 90 percent of limited weight bridges are in rural areas and heavy trucks cannot cross them. A disproportionate number of roadway fatalities also occur in rural areas. For these and many other reasons, the ROUTES Initiative seeks to collect input from stakeholders and improve DOT’s approach to best assess the needs and benefits of rural transportation infrastructure projects. This project will continue driving America’s post-coronavirus economic recovery.

These initiatives are a welcome focus on rural communities like those in Arkansas, and I look forward to continuing to assist on a federal level.