InTransition Magazine
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InTransition Magazine : Transportation Planning, Practice & Progress

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Pen Station

Statements On Highway Trust Fund Extension

Letters to the editor can be sent to intransition@njtpa.org. Please include a daytime phone number for verification.

Note to readers: The following are some of the released statements InTransition received after Congress compromised on a short-term measure this summer to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent through May 2015.

Foxx: Pass Long-Term Solution this Year

While I am pleased that Congress took action to avoid the immediate insolvency of the highway account this summer, I am disappointed that they merely kicked the can down the road again. This is the 10th surface transportation extension-on top of 18 short-term budget measures—in the last six years. There is still no long-term certainty.

Worse still, this latest Band-Aid expires right as the next construction season begins, setting up another crisis next spring. So in the coming months, the Department of Transportation will again be required to prepare cash management procedures in anticipation of repeating the same Highway Trust Fund insolvency crisis.

Americans deserve a multi-year transportation bill that provides the certainty that businesses and communities deserve, creates jobs, and makes necessary policy updates to lay the foundation for lasting economic growth. As the Senate demonstrated with its bipartisan vote on July 29, there is no reason Congress cannot act on a long-term solution this year.

Our transportation infrastructure is too essential to suffer continued neglect, and I hope that Congress uses this opportunity productively. I urge you to stand with me in calling on Congress to commit itself to a sound, bipartisan, and long-term solution that will ensure the stability of the surface transportation system of our nation for the next several years.

—Anthony R. Foxx
Secretary of Transportation, U.S. Department of Transportation,
Washington, D.C.

 

Prolonging Action Carries Consequences

While the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) would have preferred a long-term, multi-year highway funding bill, we accepted the decision to push consideration of such a bill to after the mid-term elections. We did so with the hope that we would have an adult conversation as soon as possible.

We applaud the United States Senate for its wide, bipartisan commitment to consider a long-term highway funding bill before the end of the year. But what is the House of Representatives waiting for? Another catastrophic bridge collapse? More massive potholes? A school bus accident? Our roads, bridges, and highways are literally crumbling around us; the Highway Trust Fund is about to go broke; the federal gas tax has failed to keep pace with inflation and rising fuel efficiency; and unemployed construction workers desperately need jobs.

Sadly, some Washington politicians want to stick their heads in the sand, avoid this debate as long as possible, and continue to pretend that the status quo is acceptable. This proves once again many Washington politicians have no idea how highway construction works. Wait until next May, and another construction season will be lost, more construction workers will sit idle, and our bridges will continue to fall down.

We can’t continue to let politics get in the way of doing what is right for the American people, for our economy, and for our country. We are the world’s only superpower; it is time we started acting like it.

—Terry O’Sullivan
General President, Laborers’ International Union of North America, Washington, D.C.

 

Passage of Highway Stop-Gap No Reason to Celebrate

By waiting until the last minute to solve a problem we’ve known for years was coming, Congress brought the highway program and the construction industry to the brink of disaster. We hope this exercise has underscored to everyone on Capitol Hill that the Highway Trust Fund is in dire shape and needs additional revenues, be it from a gas tax increase or some other source.

Providing the infrastructure that allows the economy to function is a core obligation of federal government. Now it’s up to Congress to fulfill that obligation and put the HTF back on the road to long-term solvency.

—Brian McGuire
President & CEO, Associated Equipment Distributors,
Alexandria, Virginia

 

Congress Should Consider All Options for Funding Transportation

We call on Congress to develop a robust vision and a long-term plan to address the critical funding needs of our nation’s surface transportation system before the current patch expires in May 2015. Congress should consider all viable options for funding our nation’s infrastructure.

Like other transportation advocates, we support an increase in the federal gasoline and diesel excise taxes, which have not been increased since 1993, to preserve the integrity of the federal Highway Trust Fund and provide funding certainty to states. In addition, we urge Congress to lift the ban on tolling existing lanes of interstate highways for purposes of reconstruction, as the Obama Administration proposed in its GROW AMERICA Act.

Rebuilding the interstate highways will cost hundreds of billions of dollars over the next several decades and current funding sources alone are not equal to the task. States should have the flexibility to use tolling and other viable funding and financing options that make the most sense for them.


—Patrick D. Jones
Executive Director and CEO, International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association,
Washington, D.C.

 

Find Sustainable Funding Source for Infrastructure

State department of transportation officials across the country are relieved that the Highway Trust Fund will continue to support critically needed highway and transit projects through May of 2015. More than 660,000 jobs and at least 6,000 state DOT construction projects were at risk had Congress failed to act in time to ensure the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund. But while this short-term patch is an important step, Congress must keep America working and the economy moving forward by passing a long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill that is supported by a sustainable source of funding as soon as possible.


—Bud Wright
Executive Director, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials,
Washington, D.C.

 

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