Let’s Talk About Roads

Let’s Talk About Roads

By Greg Sitek

There are things that we, as a society, have developed a need for, a need that readily translates into a necessity of the same magnitude as air, food, and water. In fact, as we currently exist the elimination of the human-made necessities will eliminate the three basics.

Think about it. Think about life as you know and live it without electricity, running water, cable/internet, sewerage systems, stores, roads, cars, trucks, trains, ships, airplanes, gas, oil, etc. etc. etc. When I try to I find that I am in deep trouble.

All of these “needs” are intricately intertwined much like a spider’s web, one “need” supporting the other. In today’s world the linking, supporting “spider web” is our transportation infrastructure, our roads. Take the roads away and everything we “need” to continue living as we do can no longer exist as we do. Each and every component is dependent on our roads for its continued, long-term existence.

Roads are the arteries that provide the means to install and maintain our electricity, cables, phones, waterlines; roads are the web-strands that bring groceries, clothing, stuff to our stores; roads bring farm products to the processors; roads make our lives possible.

We use them, we complain about them, we take them for granted. But we need them and we need to maintain them.

Many of the states have increased their “gas taxes” while others are introducing bills to do the same.

A recent ARTBA Transportation Investment Advocacy Center  (TIAC) release noted, “ Legislators in 37 states have introduced 185 bills aimed at boosting transportation investment in the first two months of 2019,

a new analysis finds. This number is higher than the amount of legislation the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s Transportation Investment Advocacy Center (ARTBA-TIAC) tracked over the same time period last year and is projected to grow as additional measures are introduced throughout the year.

“Continuing a trend seen in recent years, many states introduced electric vehicle fees to help ensure all vehicles that create wear and tear on roads pay for their share of maintenance. Sixteen states filed legislation to implement an electric vehicle registration fee, with 10 of those states including an additional registration fee for hybrid vehicles.

“Several states are also considering innovative funding solutions. Mileage-based user fee studies or pilot programs are being considered in eight states. Four states have introduced legislation to implement tolling.

“Of the legislation introduced in January or February, 19 measures have advanced beyond one legislative chamber, with one bill—an electric vehicle registration fee increase in Wyoming— signed into law. Another bill in Arkansas to convert the state’s flat excise tax to a variable-rate formula based on the average wholesale price of fuel, implement new electric and hybrid motor vehicle registration fees, and utilize at least $35 million in casino revenues for transportation funding has been sent to the governor and is expected to receive final approval in March. One hundred sixty-six bills have been introduced and are awaiting further action. Several states have not yet convened for their legislative session, and at least one state—Alabama—is expected to file a significant transportation investment bill.”

Since this information was released Wisconsin’s governor has a proposed bill to increase the state’s fuel tax and consider other long-term possibilities to insure continued funding for Wisconsin’s roads. Michigan’s governor has announced plans for introducing a 45-cent per gallon gas tax increase to fund meeting its highway need.

The TIAC report points out the fact that along with fuel tax increases some states are considering tolls, vehicle mileage taxes, increased licensing fees and are open to other suggestions this due to the increased number of electric, hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles on the roads. This is an issue that needs to be addressed on a federal level as well as locally.

Another issue that needs to be addressed is ensuring road-users that the monies collected for highway maintenance are spent for highway maintenance. Too often the collected revenue ends up in the general fund and never get spent on filling potholes, widening narrow roads or building new ones.

Roads are a lifeline of our country and our way of life. Since you use them and you depend on them make sure you are involved with their future…

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