Bill 615

Pat McGeehan

OP-ED

 

I want to make people aware of an important piece of legislation before the U.S. Senate. It is The Fiscal Accountability and Transparency in Infrastructure Spending Act, also known as Senate Bill 615 and sponsored by Louisiana Senator David Vitter.

 

A failing infrastructure cannot support a strong economy. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), America's infrastructure has a cumulative grade of D and our nation's network of roads, highways and bridges needs substantial work. This transparent process ensures that officials can make decisions that are truly the most cost effective for the American taxpayer and includes measures to further drive down the costs of these important projects.

 

This bill requires states and government agencies to obtain a life-cycle cost analysis based on the standards developed by the Office of Management and Budget. In addition, the cost analysis must incorporate initial costs and discounted future costs over at least a 50-year period as this model more closely captures the actual economic impact of infrastructure projects.

 

Currently, government agencies lack guidelines on how to analyze the entire life-cycle of an infrastructure project. This helps explain why infrastructure projects often cost significantly more than when they were initially budgeted. One only needs to think of the proposed tunnel from New Jersey to New York where cost estimates soared from $5 billion to $8.7 billion or the infamous “Big Dig” in Boston where a $2.8 billion project ballooned to $15 billion.

 

The savings generated through this bill will be substantial. Several state departments of transportation have had tremendous success with the strategies included in this bill. It has produced $3 million in savings on just five projects in Indiana. Indiana officials estimate that use of this plan across the board their state would result in an annual savings of $20 million.

 

This legislation will help officials build roads with more transparency, at a better value. I hope Senator Joe Manchin will vote to support Senator Vitter's critical piece of legislation. It's the right thing to do.

 

Pat McGeehan is a former member of the WV House of Delegates and a resident of Hancock County.

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