June 9, 2020

United-States-Senate.pngARTBA Urges Senate To Pass “America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act”

Last week, ARTBA Chairman Steve McGough appeared at a hearing before the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, urging them to pass the multi-year highway and transit bill known as “America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act” (ATIA) to help boost the U.S. economy (click here to view McGough’s 5-minute opening statement). The bill, which was has the support of numerous national organizations including ARTBA, AASHTO, ACEC and others, was unanimously approved by the EPW Committee back in July of 2019 and includes a proposal to increase highway investment by 27% over the next five years. The need for a bill such as this is even more critical now as we strive to recover from the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The bill would authorize $287 billion from the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) over the next five years and of that money, 90% ($259 billion) would go directly to our roads and bridges through highway formula funding, which would give each state the flexibility to address their specific surface transportation needs. The bill would also expedite permitting and cut red tape in Washington, allowing projects to get done “faster, better, cheaper and smarter.” Of course, the discussion that ensued included how the bill would be paid for, as both the Committee and those who testified recognized and acknowledged that the Highway Trust Fund is nearing insolvency, which has been further expedited by the loss of revenues related to diminished travel during the pandemic. EPW Committee members said they were committed to finding a permanent solution to fix the HTF in the very near future. Discussion touched on a possible gas tax increase, but more likely, some kind of “user maintenance fee” for all vehicles, based on miles traveled (via car, truck, etc.) which would address the fact that there are a growing number of electric vehicles on the road who do not use gasoline. Over the past few years, LICA and other industry members have continued to call on our leaders in Washington to address the issue of a funding fix for the HTF– we hope they recognize that they can no longer use temporary budget band-aids to address this important issue.

To read more about the ATIA, see the related EPW press release and ARTBA article.


 

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