Fischer discusses plans to invest in nation’s infrastructure, gleans feedback from Nebraskans

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao outlined their efforts to draft an infrastructure plan that reimagines how critical projects are regulated, funded and maintained during a recent visit to Omaha, Nebraska.

During the visit, Fischer and Chao learned about current and future infrastructure needs from representatives from the Nebraska Department of Transportation, construction companies, and stakeholders from the trucking, rail industries.

In May, President Donald Trump announced he intended to implement a national infrastructure plan, and Fischer said when Congress returns to session in the fall, she looks forward to working with Chao to bring the president’s plan to fruition.

“In designing this plan, we must also acknowledge that rural and urban areas have different needs when it comes to transportation,” Fischer wrote in a recent column. “The best way to effectively fill the demands of both areas is to empower those who will use transportation projects to be the ones who design and build them. We can do that by implementing an infrastructure funding package that utilizes current programs while giving states the flexibility to prioritize projects that they deem most important.”

Expanding the nation’s infrastructure, Fischer continued, will give Congress and the White House an opportunity to form a partnership that “improves the lives of all Americans.”

In addition to local input on transportation projects, Fischer identified innovation and expedited permitting processes as central components of plans to expand the nation’s infrastructure.

“Congress should also encourage targeted, strategic and long-term investments that strengthen safety, facilitate commerce and enhance the reliability of our transportation system,” Fischer wrote. “The best way to do this is to use the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act as a foundation for more expansion, and that’s what I will be pushing for in the Senate.”

Approved by Congress in 2015, the FAST Act led to the formation of a national strategic freight program. The program established rural and urban freight corridors in an effort to improve commercial traffic flows, and it provides states with guaranteed annual infrastructure funding.

“Infrastructure represents the future of America,” Fischer concluded. “I look forward to working with Secretary Chao as we design and implement a national infrastructure bill that effectively builds projects that will last for generations.”