Tester holds infrastructure listening session in Helena

Stakeholders for Montana’s roads, bridges, and transit systems meet to discuss transportation and its economic impact

(HELENA, Mont.) – Senator Jon Tester today brought together transportation stakeholders from across the state for a listening session aimed at upgrading Montana’s aging infrastructure.

With the current Highway Bill expiring in May, Tester asked for input directly from Montanans about the economic impacts of transportation infrastructure and for proposals to strengthen it. Tester expressed the importance of passing a long-term Highway Bill.

“Smart investments in our roads and bridges, our transit and trails, will set our kids and grandkids up to inherit a 21st Century economy. It’s key to rebuilding a vibrant middle class,” Tester said. “By working together, we can come up with ways to pass a strong Highway Bill that addresses each one, creates jobs and supports our economy.”

Tester noted that one in five Montana bridges and 40 percent of Montana’s roads are in need of repair. Tester also pointed out that $60 billion in goods are shipped on Montana’s roads each year, further highlighting the need to make sure the state has a reliable and safe transportation network.

Tester was joined by Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) Director Mike Tooley who said 87 percent of MDT’s construction budget or $400 million every year comes from the Highway Bill.

“Federal highway investment in our state is important to the national interest and critical to daily life and a thriving Montana economy,” said Tooley. “A long term transportation bill with predictable and dependable funding would allow our state to invest in projects that improve safety, quality of life, and economic opportunity.”

Tester also heard from Deb Poteet, owner of Poteet Construction in Missoula, about the impact of the Highway Bill on her business.

“Highway contracts support the middle-class, they provide good jobs to good people,” said Poteet. “My employees and their families rely on infrastructure funding for their jobs.”

Tester was also joined by transportation stakeholders representing the state of Montana, private business, agriculture, labor, and Tribal Governments.

An entire list the participants can be found HERE.