Boosting The Highway Trust Fund Should Be A Priority

Tom Halligan
Posted on January 27, 2015

More fuel, more vehicle wear and tear and maintenance, more time per ride coupled  with stressed chauffeurs and operation’s staff adds up to less productivity and on-time service — and revenue — because of our nationwide crumbling bridges, tunnels, roads and highways.

In his State-of-the Union Address last week, President Obama emphasized that if there is one common issue that both Democrats and Republicans can agree on it’s the urgent need to tackle our crumbling infrastructure. Consider: According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, it will take $3.6 trillion in investment by 2020 to fix it all, but that will require an additional $1.6 trillion in funding that is not currently included in current budgeting.

How bad is it? According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), it will cost $20.5 billion annually to fix more than 600,000 aged bridges, almost $7 billion more than the 12.8 billion budgeted. FHWA also reports that 42% of America’s major urban highways remain congested, costing the economy an estimated $101 billion annually in wasted time and fuel.

You would think those stats would be enough for both parties to take off the gloves for one debate and figure out how to fund and fix our infrastructure that Americans would no doubt support.

However, given the love fest between Republicans and Democrats in Washington, finding the additional revenue, or increasing taxes to rehab the nation’s infrastructure, is not promising, especially as politicians are antsy about increasing taxes as the 2016 election circus begins.

The fact that the Highway Trust Fund is down to a few bucks, Congress has no choice but to come up with either a short- or long-term solution to pony up the money to not only repair the infrastructure, but to improve it.

In his address, the President said “21st century businesses need 21st century infrastructure” and “I know there is bipartisan support because members of both parties have told me so.”

He may be right. Even though New Jersey Governor Christie got scolded by the GOP for hugging Obama during their beach walk following Hurricane Sandy — that’s how much they don’t even want to be seen with him — a few Republican governors have recently bucked the no-tax mantra and are increased taxes to fix their state’s crumbling infrastructure.

An article in the New York Times Jan. 26 reported that Republican governors across the country are bucking the party and raising taxes to deal with budget shortfalls and to fund infrastructure projects (which obviously give a return on investment with jobs and better transportation productivity). In South Dakota and Michigan, for example, various gas tax increases are on the table solely to cover fixing highways, roads and bridges.

Considering how the private transportation has mobilized to lobby against TNCs at the local, state and national level, it also makes sense to me to piggyback lobbying efforts to put added pressure on politicians to adequately fund the Highway Trust Fund to give us a 21st Century modern and efficient infrastructure.

Related Topics: East View Blog, federal funding, ground transportation, industry politics, lobbying, state of industry, Tom Halligan

Comments ( 2 )
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  • Concerned Citizen

     | about 3 years ago

    Wondering why if the gas tax (only 18.4 cents) is meant for fixing the roads & bridges than why is some of the money dedicated to fix them going into the 'general fund' to pay the Federal bills? This is crazy! Put the gas tax money back into the fund and leave it there to fix the condition of the highways, especially in the northern climates where they wear out the quickest...And as for the amount, which has not kept pace with inflation in over 20 years, it has not gone up at all, than also raise it now to a even 20 cents and than raise it 1 cent each year for say at least 20 years and than decide to continue or stop raising it for a while. With raising and lowing seasonal gas prices, the 1 cent increase each year will hardly ever be noticed that it's even going up slowly, that's the keys to fixing the routes we drive on......

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