DOT’s LaHood visits show floor to talk highway bill, pipe safety

Source: ConExpo-Con/Agg Daily News; CP staff

On one of ConExpo-Con/Agg’s final days, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood held a last-minute press conference to tout pipeline safety and to kick off National Pipeline Safety month, as well as discuss his assessment of a new highway transportation bill, which he would like to see pushed through Congress before the August recess.

Speaking last Friday to the official event publication, the Daily News, LaHood said that everyone in government is aware of the importance of getting a bill passed to trigger infrastructure investment and boost the nation’s economic recovery for the long term. He added that if the bill gets passed, it should be considered a reward for sustained, coordinated campaigning actions by the construction industry. “A transportation bill is a jobs bill. It puts people to work,” the Secretary said. “We want a six-year bill passed this year. We hope we can get it done by August. That’s our goal.”

In addition, speaking in front of a crowd of press and industry executives at John Deere’s booth, Secretary LaHood urged contractors to call 811 before starting any digging to avoid unintentional damage to underground wires, cables and pipeline. According to Cynthia Quarterman, the administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, who accompanied Secretary LaHood from Washington, 38 percent of pipeline damage in the U.S. last year was caused by unintentional digging, as were 25 percent of the deaths caused by pipeline explosions.