By U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin
WASHINGTON,D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) today applauded the passage of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, legislation that provides $305 billion over the next five years to improve the nation’s transportation infrastructure. The legislation reforms and strengthens transportation programs, provides certainty and more flexibility for states, streamlines project approval processes and enhances transportation safety. Under the FAST Act, West Virginia will receive over $2.3 billion dollars to maintain existing infrastructure and continue construction on critical high priority corridors such as the King Coal Highway, the Coalfields Expressway, and Corridor H. The bill also includes a new national freight program that will bring $70 million to West Virginia over the next five years to support the efficient movement of goods throughout our national highway system.
Senator Manchin fought to include $50 million for high-speed broadband deployment in the Appalachian region and helped secure essential rail safety provisions that can prevent pile-ups like the one that occurred in Fayette County earlier this year.
In addition, the FAST Act reauthorizes the U.S. Export-Import Bank, a federal agency that helps American small businesses sell their products overseas. Senator Manchin has been an outspoken supporter of the agency and has called for its reauthorization since its expiration on June 30, 2015.
“For the first time in the five years that I have been in the Senate, Congress has finally come together in a bipartisan, bicameral way to craft a much-needed, long-term fix that addresses our nation’s vast transportation infrastructure challenges,” Senator Manchin said. “Twenty-eight percent of West Virginia’s 38,000 miles of public roads are in need of repair, and we cannot afford another short-term patch that just kicks the can down the road. While this legislation is not perfect, I am pleased that it increases investments in our roads and highways to create jobs, boost economic development and improve conditions in our local communities to make West Virginia a safer place to live, work, and play.
“It is also very critical for West Virginia small businesses that this bill includes the reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which expired this summer as a result of political gamesmanship. Without the Export-Import Bank, small businesses have been left without the certainty to expand and provide services to new customers. I have always been a staunch supporter of the Export–Import Bank because it creates jobs, keeps businesses strong and boosts markets for American-made goods. With the reauthorization of this important federal agency, small businesses will again be able to benefit from the Bank’s services and expand their customer base.”