Washington, D.C. – Salisbury Mayor Jake Day testified before the United States Senate Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure in support of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The hearing, entitled, “Implementing IIJA: Opportunities for Local Jurisdictions to Address Transportation Challenges,” centered upon provisions within the $1 trillion-dollar package that change the way federal funding is allocated and disbursed.
Under the IIJA, local governments are eligible for $287 billion in direct infrastructure funding, providing cities and towns the ability to more effectively prioritize and fund infrastructure projects in their jurisdictions. Day praised the legislation and pointed to this direct-funding approach as its most impactful component.
“Americans trust local government most to respond to their needs,” said the Mayor. “Whatever the ownership and responsibility for a given right of way, rest assured, a concerned citizen is going to call their Mayor, their Commissioner.”
Historically, federal infrastructure dollars have been apportioned to state departments of transportation and would find their way to municipalities in the form of pass-through funding. This approach leaves major infrastructure decisions to those DOTs, leaving local governments with little to no say in the decision-making process.
“We are often the first line of response because we are on the ground with our neighbors in feeling the effects of dysfunctional systems and crumbling infrastructure,” said Day. ‘When infrastructure dollars pass through layers of government further removed from community-articulated priorities, investment slows, as does the returns we expect those investments to produce.”
The Mayor also offered recommendations on how the IIJA can be more effective and equitable for smaller cities and towns. “In particular, rural communities have more opportunity to compete when burdens on applicants are simplified,” he said.”
Day was one of four panelists summoned to appear before the body, joining Michael Carrol, Philadelphia’s Deputy Managing Director of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems; Jim Willox, Chairman of the Converse County Commission of Wyoming; and Jason Benson, Engineer, Cass County, North Dakota. The Mayor’s testimony was requested by Subcommittee Chairman Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD