The Auto Care Association has joined the national conversation taking place as the Trump administration and Congress moved to accomplish the President’s next agenda item of an infrastructure spending bill. On Feb. 15, Auto Care Association President and CEO Bill Hanvey participated in the Washington Examiner’s “Examining Infrastructure” panel discussion, which featured opening remarks from Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) regarding the composition and prospects for a successful infrastructure bill during the current Congress, including options for funding infrastructure projects.
The event was hosted at the Hillsdale College Kirby Center in Washington, D.C., and was co-sponsored by the Auto Care Association and Government Affairs Industry Network (GAIN). Washington Examiner Chief Congressional Correspondent Susan Ferrechio moderated the discussion, which included panelists Bridget Donnell Newton, mayor of Rockville, Maryland, and Jim Corcoran, second vice chair, board of directors, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).
In his opening remarks, Sen. Inhofe, chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, noted that when it comes to getting legislation funded and passed in congress, infrastructure is unique. “Transportation is different from all other government expenditures, because it’s popular and everyone wants it. That’s why we’re going to be successful and get it done,” said Inhofe.
The panel discussion topics centered on the current state of infrastructure, from both a state and national level, and what the future of our infrastructure system will look like. “Infrastructure is more than just concrete and steel, it’s about connectivity,” said Hanvey. “It’s the cars being able to connect and communicate. We have to have the same vision with this bill that [President] Eisenhower had with the future of transportation when he took a leadership role in establishing the nation’s interstate highway system.”
With the rise of telematics present in today’s vehicles and an increase in autonomous vehicles being developed, the panelists agreed that funding needs to be allocated for the technological component of today’s infrastructure needs, specifically in the area of creating wider access to broadband. “When we talk about autonomous vehicles, we have to look at our grid — will we have the capacity to totally support these vehicles and ensure they can communicate with the roadways, the traffic lights, emergency services and more? This is all part of the infrastructure discussion,” said Hanvey.
The Auto Care Association says it would support an infrastructure bill that advances the technological reach of the current infrastructure framework and prioritizes “the development of highly automated vehicle safety technologies,” which Senator Inhofe’s American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act or the “AV START Act” (S. 1885) bill, currently working its way through the Senate, seeks to achieve.