Earlier this week I was contacted by a reporter who was prepping a story about a competitive federal transportation grant that didn't come to Kentucky.
My response was that it was unfortunate that a Kentucky entity didn't receive this funding, but the only way to ensure we have the necessary funding for needed improvements throughout the state is to have a long term, adequately funded surface transportation bill matched with adequate funding on the state level.
The real story is that, as a nation, we don't have a long-term, adequately funded surface transportation bill that provides an opportunity to both plan for and implement highway and transit projects.
We don't have a long term Federal Aviation Administration authorization so our airports can plan for and implement improvements.
Our short line rail operators don't know if they will receive tax credits to help them offset the costs of major repairs or if they will have to implement major changes due to their lines by the end of this year to meet regulatory requirements.
Our inland river system needs consistent funding to make improvements to handle future freight movements.
As transportation providers we know we must be able to plan for improvements. We also know how difficult it is to get funding for these improvements. We know that over time, as with most things, costs increase.
We also know that our services make an important contribution to our local communities and to our state's overall economic health.
We know that transportation connects people to jobs, parts to manufacturers, produce to markets, and manufactured goods to the international marketplace.
This is true for every state in the nation. From coast to coast, every state knows the need for long term, adequately funded transportation authorizations to plan for and implement improvements in order to make connections to other states as well as other countries. Without these authorizations, each and every state struggles with planning and paying for the projects that we need to remain competitive with the rest of the free world.
As Bud Wright, Executive Director of AASHTO said during our 2014 Fly In, "transportation makes it happen." And Bud isn't the only person that knows this.
Every leader in every country in the world knows how important transportation is to their country. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article other countries are making transportation improvements that will provide opportunity for economic growth in the future. India's Prime Minister is working on a plan that includes $12.6 billion in new roads and $16 billion in railway improvements. China is planning to build an airport with the world's largest passenger terminal. Cuba is developing a new deep water port that can handle the Panamax container ships.
Maintaining and building our infrastructure is vital to our country's success today and in the future. Projects we start today will provide jobs. The roads, airports, rail lines, riverports, and transit services we improve will move our families and our economy long after the ribbon is cut. And we have to keep reporting that story.
If we don't, our story will get lost - and then our entire nation will lose. Isn't that a story worth reporting?