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Hultgren news release: Hultgren talks transportation

U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren issued the following news release:

Despite the United States’ serious fiscal issues, U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Winfield, says the time is now to act on a longterm transportation bill.

“It’s about America believing in itself enough to pay it forward,” Hultgren said. “This is one the things we can get done and should get done.”

Hultgren, a Republican from the 14th District, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce leaders addressed about 20 area business owners at the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce Thursday.

Hultgren, who serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said improving the nation’s infrastructure remains a key factor in retaining and creating jobs. A transportation bill needs to make as large an investment as possible, he said.

“I fear that 12-, 18-, 24-month bills are too short of a bill. Then you just get shovel-ready projects,” Hultgren said. “I’d really like to have it be as long as possible.”

In March, Congress failed to agree on a long-range plan to keep federal highway and transit programs running. Instead, Congress passed a stopgap funding measure, avoiding the shutdown of federally funded transportation projects.

The Senate brought up a two-year, $109 billion transportation bill earlier this year, but House leaders refused to bring it up for a vote.

The last four-year transportation bill expired in 2009. Hultgren said the nation is operating on a ninth short-term extension, slated to expire on June 30.

Alex Herrgott, a lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said an infrastructure transportation bill is a top priority, and something the Congress can get done this legislative session.

“Roads are at the end of their useful life, and we have no money to repair them,” Herrgott said. “The federal gas tax hasn’t been raised since '93.”

Herrgott said American businesses struggle to compete because the United States has failed to adequately maintain infrastructure.

“When it comes to roads, we need to remind people why it’s important,” he said.

Herrgott said states have used transportation dollars to maintain existing infrastructure instead of creating new capacity on roadways. But truck traffic is expected to increase 20 to 30 percent through 2020, he said.

Keith Wheeler of Oswego-based Responsive Network Services asked Hultgren Thursday if an Oswego Metra stop was likely.

“I think it is,” Hultgren said. “I believe the people of Kendall County are supportive of it.”

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