Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), welcomed William “Bill” T. Panos to the committee. Mr. Panos is the director for the Wyoming Department of Transportation.

Mr. Panos was testifying before the committee at an oversight hearing on “Modernizing our Nation’s Infrastructure.” The hearing focused on the infrastructure needs of the country, particularly in rural communities.

In his written testimony, Mr. Panos noted that the Departments of Transportation of four other states endorsed his remarks. “The transportation departments of Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota have joined the Wyoming Department of Transportation in this statement,” said Panos. “As Congress considers infrastructure investment issues, we hope our comments will enhance understanding of the often overlooked rural perspective.”

Mr. Panos emphasized how transportation investments in rural communities benefit the entire country. “The entire nation, including residents of major metropolitan areas, is well served by federal investment that improves surface transportation infrastructure in and across rural states like ours. Among other benefits, federal aid highways in our rural states enable: truck movements between the west coast and the large cities of the midwest and east, benefiting people and commerce in the big metropolitan areas at both ends of the journey; agricultural, energy, and natural resource products, which largely originate in rural areas, to move to national and world markets; and access to scenic wonders like Yellowstone National Park and Mount Rushmore.”

Mr. Panos also noted the challenges that rural states face regarding transportation. “Our states face significant transportation funding challenges. We can’t provide all these benefits to the nation and ensure a sufficiently connected national system without federal investment. We are geographically large; often include vast tracks of federal and tribal lands; have extensive highway networks; and have low population densities.”

He concluded his testimony by stating: “Federal investment in surface transportation in rural states helps move people and goods throughout the country, helps move agricultural, energy and natural resources to market, and is in the national interest for the many reasons we have presented.”