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Democracy Awards

Congressman Mark DeSaulnier

Representing the 11th District of California


As the former Chairman of the California State Senate Transportation & Housing Committee, Congressman DeSaulnier knows firsthand how important effective and efficient transportation systems are to a growing and prosperous California economy. As our infrastructure continues to age, coordinated infrastructure investments are needed by all levels of government to ensure that our roadways and bridges will continue to be safe and meet the needs of daily commuters and businesses. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that the U.S. must invest nearly $200 billion annually to address our roadway and bridge conditions. Similarly, our transit systems continue to endure a nearly $80 billion maintenance backlog with over $14 billion required annually to prevent that backlog from growing. 

Congressman DeSaulnier has consistently voted to put California and the nation on the right path by addressing our nation’s infrastructure challenges.  He voted in favor of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (H.R. 22), a five-year reauthorization of federal transportation investments to provide states and municipalities with a dedicated and reliable funding mechanism to strategically plan and advance infrastructure projects. 

Given the overwhelming infrastructure challenges that states and municipalities face, and the limited resources that Congress is allocating, Mark has led the fight to ensure that more is done to guarantee that every dollar spent on our infrastructure is invested wisely. We cannot afford to allow diminishing resources to be directed towards bad investments.


Working for You 

Making Government More Accountable and Transparent

In addition to voting for the FAST Act, Congressman DeSaulnier has fought to enhance transportation agency transparency and accountability at all levels of government, and improve public confidence that federal transportation dollars are being spent in the most effective and efficient ways possible.

Evidence-based decision making

Many Californians believe that highway and bridge projects in the past have been selected based on political expedience and insider connections rather than statewide and regional transportation goals. They see projects take longer, cost more, and deliver less than what was promised.

Based on his bipartisan Metropolitan Planning Enhancement Act (H.R. 3787), Congressman DeSaulnier is promote evidence-based decision making by directing state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations to develop publicly available criteria to prioritize transportation projects that support regional and state goals. Requiring that projects be assessed with objective criteria removes politics from the project selection process, and ensures that limited transportation resources are invested in projects that provide the highest return for commuters and taxpayers.

Project Accountability

Experts suggest that ninety percent of infrastructure megaprojects exceed their initial cost estimates, sometimes by billions of dollars. Instituting appropriate oversight and risk management roles can improve project outcomes.

In 2013, then-State Senator DeSaulnier championed a framework for legitimizing the use of peer review on public works projects by requiring a transparent process for selecting peer review group members. As a U.S. Congressman, Mark introduced the Transportation Megaprojects Accountability and Oversight Act (H.R. 4228) to establish peer review groups and a comprehensive risk management plans to prevent cost overruns and delays for transportation megaprojects exceeding $2.5 billion.

Safety First

Earlier this year, a federal judge handed down a $663 million judgment against a prominent manufacturer accused of producing faulty guardrails that endangered the traveling public. In fact, forty states, and the District of Columbia, had already stopped installing this model of guardrail due to safety concerns.

Congressman DeSaulnier successfully amended the FAST Act to improve our system of inventorying roadside highway safety hardware, like guardrails, to provide transportation agencies with adequate data to evaluate devices while in service, and improve their capability to track down and remove devices if there’s a safety recall.

Meeting our Needs

Mark continues to build on his efforts in the California State Senate to identify and secure a robust, sustainable funding mechanism to supplement the dwindling Highway Trust Fund. Many Americans have grown cynical about how their hard-earned tax dollars are invested, paralyzing the political process, and hindering Congress’s ability to identify the resources needed to ensure our roadways, bridges, and transit systems meet the public’s needs.

Thanks to Congressman DeSaulnier’s vision, California is strategically positioned to take advantage of provisions in the FAST Act that will help determine how we invest in tomorrow’s infrastructure by identifying opportunities to move away from the antiquated gas tax that no longer meets the needs of California’s businesses and traveling public. 

Local Control

Californians are proud of their ability to address local infrastructure needs through ballot initiatives and strategic investments.  Congressman DeSaulnier is working with his colleagues in Congress to ensure that federal policies do not disrupt of our communities to determine how best to spend their local resources.