Dec 03 2015
WASHINGTON — Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said this on Thursday after voting in favor of the conference report implementing the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which reauthorizes and funds America’s surface transportation programs through fiscal year 2020:
“The FAST Act’s bipartisan conference report is the product of months of thoughtful negotiations and public input. While not perfect, it’s the product of a functioning, productive Congress. I worked closely with my fellow Wisconsinites, Reps. Reid Ribble and Sean Duffy, as well as with my Senate colleagues, to ensure the final report would benefit Wisconsin constituents and businesses. The report gives local and state governments the ability to plan their road and bridge project budgets out further than just a few months at a time, which has unfortunately been the norm for a decade. These short-term funding measures can increase construction costs by as much as 30%, by some estimates. The FAST Act gives our transportation construction industry certainty, which every business craves as they build their annual budgets, bid on projects, make equipment purchases and set staffing needs.”
The report contains bipartisan language that will specifically benefit Wisconsin in a number of ways. It will:
• Improve the process for seeking federal permitting authorization for major infrastructure projects.
• Improve rules on carrying fluid milk so that fewer milk trucks would be needed, cutting costs for dairy farmers and benefiting consumers.
• Ensure that fire trucks and other heavy emergency vehicles are exempt from federal axle highway weight laws.
• Allow logging trucks on their way to the mill to continue driving a short 12-mile stretch of I-39 in Marathon County. Currently, these logging trucks must exit U.S. Highway 51 south of Wausau when it becomes I-39, because federal Interstate weight limits restrict trucks to 80,000 total pounds while the state’s highway limit is 98,000 pounds. Logging trucks will no longer have to pull off the highway and slowly traverse narrower city and county roads, thus improving safety conditions.
• Prohibit the Department of Transportation from awarding grants to local and state governments for motorcycle-only checkpoint programs.
• Reinstate the Motorcycle Advisory Council (MAC) which would advise the Federal Highway Administration on infrastructure issues of concern to motorcyclists.