Tag Archive for 'bridges'

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From THE HILL: House approves $8 billion highway funding extension

 

By Keith Laing07/15/15 04:25 PM EDT

The House voted Wednesday to approve an $8 billion bill to extend federal transportation funding until December.

The funding extension was approved in a 312-119 vote.

The legislation now goes to the Senate, which is considering a funding bill that could also include an extension of the Export-Import Bank.

That would introduce a new complication to the fight over highway funding; conservatives in the House want to prevent Ex-Im from moving forward.

Republican leaders said the stopgap measure will buy time to negotiate a long-term highway bill.

“We don’t like patches more than anybody else does,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said. “But this patch is necessary to make sure that [construction] projects don’t stop.”

Democrats complained bitterly about the temporary extension, which is the 34th highway funding patch that has been approved by Congress since 2005.

“If kicking the can down the road was an Olympic sport, what we would win here in the United States Congress, we would win gold, we would win bronze, we’d win silver, and we’d win aluminum,” said Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.).

Lawmakers face a July 31 deadline to extend highway funding.

Congress has been grappling with a transportation funding shortfall estimated at about $16 billion per year. Since 2005, lawmakers have not passed a transportation bill that lasts longer than two years.

In the Senate, it is expected that lawmakers will add an Ex-Im extension to the highway funding measure, and then send that package back to the House.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and other opponents of the bank have warned GOP leaders against that strategy.

“I’m willing to use any and all procedural tools to stop this corporate welfare and this corruption from being propagated,” Cruz, who is running for his party’s presidential nomination, said at a press conference in Washington on Wednesday.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has promised to allow opponents of Ex-Im a chance to strip that language from a funding bill if the Senate approves the package. But it is not clear whether opponents would have the votes to win.

Lawmakers are not expected to leave for their August recess without taking action on highway spending.

The main source of transportation funding has been the 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal gas tax, but the tax has not been increased since 1993 and more fuel-efficient cars have sapped its buying power.

The federal government typically spends about $50 billion per year on transportation projects, but the gas tax only brings in approximately $34 billion annually.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated it will take about $100 billion, in addition to the gas tax revenue, to pay for a six-year transportation funding bill.

Transportation supporters have pushed for a gas tax increase to pay for a long-term infrastructure funding bill, but Republicans have ruled out a tax hike.

The GOP measure approved on Wednesday relies on $3 billion worth of savings from Transportation Security Administration fees and $5 billion in tax compliance measures. It would fund road projects through Dec. 18.

Democrats introduced the $478 billion highway bill proposed by President Obama, which also does not contain a gas tax hike, ahead of Wednesday’s vote.

That measure calls for spending $478 billion over the next six years on the nation’s roads and bridges. It would fund some of the spending by revamping the U.S.’s international tax structure, instituting a one-time tax of 14 percent on offshore profits held by American multinational companies.

Republicans and business groups insist that the 14 percent rate is too high, but Ryan, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) have said they’re interested in an international tax reform deal that would also tap the offshore profits to pay for a long-term highway bill.

Top GOP senators have made it clear that they won’t just accept the House’s bill, and are still interested in a multi-year bill that would at least get the Highway Trust Fund past the 2016 election.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) told reporters that Republicans had carved out enough money to pay for about five years’ worth of highway funding.

“We’re both going at it as best we can, and then ultimately we’ve got to resolve it, between the House and Senate,” Hatch said. “And I think we will.”

—Bernie Becker and Cristina Marcos contributed to this report.  

DOT updates Highway Trust Fund ticker as deadline, shortfall loom

imagesPosted by:  Anthony Foxx on

www.transportation.gov

In June, we published graphs showing past balances and projected balances for the two Highway Trust Fund accounts, the Highways Account and the Mass Transit Account.  Those graphs showed the Highways Account balance quickly approaching zero with the Mass Transit Account balance not far behind.

A month later, we’ve updated the data for both accounts to reflect June’s activity.  I’m sorry to report that the situation has not really changed, and both accounts are dwindling fast.  In fact, we’re nearing the threshold for the Highways Account where we have to institute cash management procedures.logoHTF-Cash-Flow-Summary-through-06-26-15
The timing couldn’t be worse because summer is the season for road work –whether it’s patching potholes; renewing pavement, safety devices, and signage; or working on new projects.  And, as more and more of us are finding out each day, America’s roads are not in good shape.

Earlier today, we released fact sheets for every state documenting the percentage of bridges that need major attention, the percent of roads in bad or mediocre condition, and the annual cost to drivers of those maintenance challenges.

As I wrote here this morning, “It’s not a pretty picture.”

HTF-MTA-Status-FY2016-week-of-06-26-15And the picture for transit isn’t great either.  Many of our legacy systems are experiencing the same maintenance challenges our roads face.  And 45 percent of Americans don’t even have access to transit.

With current surface transportation law set to expire by the end of this very month, the time for Congress to act is clearly now.

We’ve sent them a proposal, the GROW AMERICA Act, that would address our road and transit challenges, but GROW can’t fix anything unless Congress passes it and sends it to the President’s desk for his signature.

Through the entire history of this country, we have been nothing if not a Nation of problem-solvers.

It’s time for Congress to live up to that legacy.  It’s time for a transportation bill that lasts more than a few months and increases investment in our roads, bridges, and transit systems.  It’s time to GROW.logo-1

TRIP Reports: America’s Rural Roads & Bridges in Need of Modernization and Significant Repairs

TRIP

ARTBA Letter to Ways and Means Committee Leadership Uses Government Data to Refute Notion That Gas Tax is No Longer a Reliable Transportation Funding Mechanism

d9cdad69-e8aa-4830-b455-58392c53ea55“Restoring purchasing power for the federal surface transportation investment program is a worthy pro-growth national goal,” American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President & CEO Pete Ruane said in a letter June 23 to House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and the committee’s Ranking Democrat Sander Levin (Mich.).

Ruane noted that while the federal gas and diesel excise rates have remained static since 1993, “the price of paving asphalt has risen 170 percent, the price of iron 833d1848-c491-4d71-9832-bb21e1b848beand steel has increased 71 percent and the hourly wage paid a production worker has increased 85 percent.”

Ruane said data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) show that in 1993 when the gas tax rate was last adjusted, American motorists were being asked to contribute 17 percent of the $1.06 per gallon they paid for motor fuel to help fund federal investments in their highways, bridges and transit systems. “This year,’ he said, motorists are contributing 6.6 percent of the $2.80 per gallon they pay on average for motor fuel to support those investments.”

In the letter, Ruane used data and forecasts from the Congressional Budget Office, Federal Highway Administration and EIA to dispute the assertion that the motor fuels excise is no longer a reliable mechanism for generating a sustainable and predictable revenue stream to support future federal investments in surface transportation improvements.

“The mechanism is stable for the next decade,” he said. “The problem is the excise rate.”

A 15 cents-per-gallon increase in the federal gas tax, which would fund a $400 billion six-year highway and transit authorization, “would restore the user pays principle, cost the average motorist less than 25 cents as day and end this morally bankrupt cycle of dumping more and more debt on our children and grandchildren to pay today’s highway and transit bills,” the ARTBA leader said.

Ruane pointed out such a move could also quickly end the chronic congressional search for non-user revenue to bail-out its highway and transit authorizations. “Treasury could begin collecting additional revenue from a rate adjustment as soon as Congress and the president give it statutory authority to do so,” he said.

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Senators Unveil 6-Year Transportation Bill

Senators Unveil 6-Year Transportation Bill

RollCall: http://blogs.rollcall.com/wgdb/bipartisan-senators-unveil-6-year-transportation-bill/

The bipartisan leaders of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee have unveiled a new six-year surface transportation reauthorization costing more than a quarter-trillion dollars, but it’s still unclear how the Senate would pay for it.

The bill would place a new priority on funding streams for off-system bridges as well as a new grant program for projects of strategic and national significance. According to summary materials obtained by CQ Roll Call, it would provide for increased focus on backlogs related to the Interstate Highway System and the National Highway System.

The measure also would set up a formula-based program for funding for freight corridors, in an effort to fund projects that improve the movement of goods.

“This bipartisan bill … contains the hallmark accomplishment of a new freight program to prioritize federal spending on the facilities that will most directly benefit our economy, in addition to prioritizing federal dollars towards bridge safety and the interstate system,” said Chairman James M. Inhofe, R-Okla.

Overall, the measure, which this year has been dubbed the DRIVE Act, would provide for a 3-percent annual growth average over the years from the funding levels in the MAP-21 bill. That equates to roughly $260-270 billion over the six years.

But as is customary, those are not total figures because the bill does not address funding issues within the jurisdiction of the Finance Committee or other provisions belonging to the Commerce and Banking panels. None of those panels have released legislation, and getting the funding has been the sticking point; it’s always easier to dole out the money than decide who you are going to squeeze to get it.

That was a point highlighted in the statement released of a news conference to unveil the bill by the EPW panel’s ranking Democrat, Barbara Boxer of California.

“The clock is ticking, and action in the EPW is a major first step — the other committees also need to act,” Boxer said.

The EPW portion of the bill is scheduled to be marked up Wednesday.

Congress Finally Has a Highway Bill. It Wouldn’t Fix Anything.

The bill contains policy certainty for states, but Congress has no solution for how to fund it.

National Journal:  http://www.nationaljournal.com/energy/transportation-bill-funding-congress-20150623