This past month, Rep. Mike Schultz, House Committee Transportation Chair, gave an exclusive recap of the top transportation bills of the 2017 legislative session to the Salt Lake Chamber’s Utah Transportation Coalition. Rep. Schultz discussed how the Utah Transportation Coalition played a central role in these issues and gave a behind the scenes look into the legislative process behind these policies.
Prioritizing Economically Critical Infrastructure
As Utah continues to grow, our infrastructure and transportation system have to keep up. In
2015, Utah’s population reached 3 million and is estimated to reach 4.6 million by 2040. In order to keep Utah moving, we’re faced with the challenge of maintaining, and future-proofing our infrastructure.
Another integral piece of legislation was S.B. 277, Highway General Obligation Bonds Authorizations that approves a $1 billion bond for state transportation facilities, or $250 million year for four years. The bill protects the existing prioritization process set by the Utah Transportation Commission to determine projects that advance. Representative Schultz commented that this approach demonstrates Utah’s exceptional fiscal responsibility, confirmed by our state being one of a select few with a AAA bond rating.
“This is the first time we’ve bonded without a specific list of projects prescribed in the legislation, allowing for projects to go through the Transportation Commission’s standard prioritization process,” Osborne added.
This process will guarantee key projects will move up to address the state’s most critical transportation needs first. As such, the Coalition supports fully funding the prioritized needs identified in Utah’s Unified Transportation Plan, including finding solutions to address the remaining funding shortfall of nearly $8 billion by 2040 needed to improve the capacity expansion, maintenance, and operations of our state’s significant transportation assets.
Rep. Schultz said the Legislature is capitalizing on the great leadership of our state’s transportation agencies to commit all involved to disciplined transportation planning and investment in the future.
The Utah Transportation Coalition is a group of business and civic leaders working together to protect Utah’s environment, improve the economy and preserve our quality of life through strategic transportation investments. The Coalition is an established, long-term organization advocating specifically for responsible transportation investment to keep Utah’s economy moving.