Shuster defends spending on highway program

| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 8:39 p.m.

WASHINGTON — House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., used his first hearing to head off fellow Republicans who support paring the highway program and sending more money to the states.

Shuster, whose district includes parts of Indiana and Fayette counties, said the interstate highway system Republican President Dwight Eisenhower started in the 1950s “allowed massive economic growth for two generations.”

“An efficient national transportation network allows businesses to lower their costs,” said Shuster, who took charge of the transportation panel in the new Congress that began last month. “It allows American businesses to be competitive in a global marketplace.”

Congress is implementing a two-year plan for building highways, bridges and mass transit, and Shuster has said a top priority for his committee is finding money to pay for more. He may face opposition from some Republicans who oppose higher taxes and say states can build highways more quickly and for less money.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell, co-chairman of Building America's Future, an advocacy group favoring more government funding for transportation, water systems and the electrical grid, said the United States spends about 1.7 percent of its gross domestic product on transportation, compared with 9 percent in China and 4 percent in Canada.

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