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Many existing programs would be eliminated or streamlined to better meet national goals like maintaining the interstate highway system, attacking freight bottlenecks and easing congestion. The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, a successful loan program that sparks private investment in major projects, would be greatly expanded. Project delivery would be accelerated, saving time and money.

What both bills lack is the robust funding Republicans, Democrats and independents know is necessary to meet the staggering highway and transit challenges that have previously been documented by congressionally chartered commissions, the U.S. Department of Transportation and private-sector groups. We will get what we pay for.

Unlike the case with the Recovery Act, the federal surface transportation program requires states to provide matching funds in order to use federal dollars. This is critical.

It helps ensure that only priority projects get funded. It also helps drive growth in state investment in their own infrastructure.

A net growth program creates new jobs and ensures progress toward meeting future needs.

Mr. President, America needs a six-year surface transportation bill that is robustly funded. As you follow up on your job-creation proposals, think big. It will take your personal leadership to push the funding initiatives necessary to get it done.

Pete Ruane is president of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association.