By Congressman Cresent Hardy (R-NV-4)

Heavy traffic and poor road conditions cost Nevadans time and money every year. As someone who has built some of the roads in our state, it has been a priority of mine to help Nevada’s families travel faster and safer every day.

When the FAST Act was signed into law last week by the federal government, we took an important step toward achieving those goals.

For one, this bill formally designates the expansion of I-11 from Las Vegas to I-80 along Highway 95. This expansion will not only get us where we want to go; it will help drive our economy to where it needs to be. We estimate that I-11 will contribute $24 billion in economic impact, create 240,000 jobs and provide up to $39 billion in travel benefits.

That is welcome news for a state suffering from an unemployment rate well above the national average.

The General Manager of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, Tina Quigley, put it more simply. “This is huge for us,” she said. “If you look at a map of the U.S. highway system, the convergence of major highways is where you have some of the most thriving cities.”

But I-11 isn’t the only thing that will be important to Nevadans in this transportation bill.

The funds in this bill can help to expand congested portions of I-15 and complete the Boulder City Bypass. We can also do something about the 34 structurally deficient bridges in Nevada. Anyone using public transportation in Las Vegas will be pleased to learn that we negotiated additional funding to improve city bus systems.

In all, nearly 60 projects in Nevada are at risk without meaningful federal support.

It takes years of planning and significant money to build upon our existing transportation system. Despite our aging infrastructure, Congress ignored this need and passed a total of 36 short-term transportation spending fixes over the last 10 years.

No one enjoys living check to check, but that is exactly what Congress has been asking the country’s infrastructure planners to do.

Fortunately, the FAST Act isn’t another rushed spending spree by frivolous lawmakers in Washington. It provides steady funding to critical infrastructure projects across our nation for the next five years.

Nevada’s transportation planners will have the budget clarity required to make the types of long-term investments we need to address headache-inducing traffic and fix legitimate safety issues around the state.

Nevada Department of Transportation Director, Rudy Malfabon, has said, “The assurance of long-term federal transportation funding will enable NDOT…to improve safety, mobility and enhance economic development for years to come.”

These funds will help meet the demands of our growing urban population and the challenges our rural communities might otherwise be unable to manage.

Nevadans can look forward to smoother roads ahead. I’m looking forward to driving out there with you.