WASHINGTON – Today, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley helped to pass a bipartisan, job-creating transportation bill out of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee. The bill will ensure that construction work across the country does not come to an abrupt halt later this year and will make job-creating investments in infrastructure like roads, bridges, highways, and bike and pedestrian routes.
“Our number one priority should be creating good, living-wage jobs,” Merkley said after the committee vote. “Investing in infrastructure is the best way to create those jobs now while laying the foundation for a strong economy in the future. Bipartisan, job-creating bills like this one are exactly what Congress should be working on.”
Extending this legislation will support 3 million jobs nationwide. It passed through the committee unanimously, with ten Democrats and eight Republicans voting in favor.
The bill creates an entirely new program to improve and upgrade America’s freight infrastructure. This provision will invest up $400 million next year in projects around the nation, creating jobs and helping Oregon businesses move their goods to market.
The bill also includes a provision based on Senator Merkley’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act that would require the Department of Transportation to create separate safety performance measures for motorized and non-motorized users. Over the last two years, Senator Merkley had heard from groups like AARP, the League of American Bicyclists, and America Walks about the need to increase the safety of roads and walkways for bicyclists and pedestrians. In 2013, there were 55 pedestrian fatalities in Oregon. By evaluating the safety of infrastructure for all users of our transportation system, states will be encouraged to invest in safety enhancements—such as bike lanes and well-marked crosswalks—that stop preventable injuries and fatalities among pedestrians and cyclists.