Utah’s Speaker of the House said transportation helps strengthen the economy in opening remarks at the annual UDOT Conference.
Speaker Becky Lockhart has an affinity for orange barrels. The large traffic control devices are a sign of road construction “which I love,” she said during lunch time remarks on Monday.
While road construction can make getting around inconvenient temporarily, in the long run, transportation projects help strengthen the economy. Building and maintaining an efficient transportation system helps support commerce, job growth, and helps expand a healthy tax base that can fund critical needs like education, explained Lockhart.
Speaker Lockhart was part of an effort with other lawmakers to examine the way transportation funding was accomplished in the past. “We looked at the past and tried to find a plan to work in the future for the next two decades.” Lockhart said former legislator Marta Dilree, who was a strong advocate for transportation funding, started the effort to evaluate transportation issues years ago.
Lockhart also spoke about the importance of maintaining roads and bridges. Funding maintenance has been made more difficult by the depth and duration of the recession. Ongoing maintenance is important to keeping the transportation system healthy, but articulating that message can be difficult.
Lockhart praised Provo River Constructors, who are building the I-15 CORE project, and said “we got what we wanted and more,” since the project team delivered the requirements of the project efficiently and ahead of schedule. The taxpayers owe the contractors a “debt of gratitude,” said Lockhart.
Speaker Lockhart acknowledged that elected officials have a lot of tough decisions to make when it comes to balancing all the needs of the state. By working together she is confident that decision makers “can make Utah the best place to live and play.”
The UDOT Conference is an annual event that brings employees, contractors and researchers together to share way to improve the transportation system.