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Organizations aim to get long-term transportation funding

Two of the leading transportation organizations in the USA have been putting additional pressure on key congressional committees that are trying to find a permanent solution to the funding problems for the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF). The HTF is the source, on average, of more than 50% of the highway, bridge and roadway infrastructure capital investments made annually by state governments. The latest funding authorization for the highway and public transit program expires July 31.

John Cox, president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), has sent written testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee, and the Senate Finance Committee, which have been holding hearings on long-term funding for the HTF, with both committees responsible for deciding how to pay for future surface transportation projects.

“For almost 60 years, the Highway Trust Fund provided stable, reliable and substantial highway and transit funding,” Cox (pictured) has written. “However, over the past seven years, this has not been the case. Since 2008, almost US$62 billion has been transferred from the General Fund to the Highway Trust Fund to keep it solvent. There is ample documented evidence that shows infrastructure investment is critical for long-term economic growth, increasing productivity, employment, household income, and exports. Conversely, without prioritizing our nation’s infrastructure needs, deteriorating conditions can produce a severe drag on the overall economy. Whichever revenue tools are utilized, at a minimum, it is crucial to identify solutions that will sustain the MAP-21 level of surface transportation investment in real terms.”

Meanwhile, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and its industry allies have launched advertising campaigns on multiple mediums to draw congressional attention to the urgent need to find a permanent solution for HTF. ARTBA has been running a 60-second television ad recommending its ‘Getting Beyond Gridlock’ (GBG) proposal, which combines a 15 cents-per-gallon increase in the federal motor fuels tax with an offsetting federal tax rebate for middle and lower income Americans for six years, if necessary.

The plan would fund a six-year, US$401bn, highway and public transit capital investment program and provide sustainable, user-based funds to support it for the next 10 years. The association has also deployed companion digital adverts that direct congressional staff to the GBG website. To compliment these efforts, the ARTBA co-chaired Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) are partnering on a TV advert highlighting President Ronald Reagan’s 1982 gas tax increase proposal to support highway and public transit improvements. The TCC is also running a companion radio advert.

June 19, 2015

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