Tag Archive for 'Highway Bill'

ARTBA Launches “Transportation Investment Advocate Center” To Help Move State & Local Campaigns

image001The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) recently announced the start-up of the “Transportation Investment Advocacy Center™” (TIAC), a first-of-its kind, dynamic education program and internet-based information resource.  The program is aimed at helping private citizens, legislators, organizations and businesses successfully grow transportation infrastructure resources at the state and local levels through the legislative and ballot initiative processes.

The cornerstone of the new program is the website, www.transportationinvestment.org.  ARTBA Chairman Doug Black says the site has been structured “so those interested in making action happen do not have to ‘re-invent the wheel’ to mount successful campaigns.” The idea, he said, is “to put in one place—and promote the sharing of—current strategies, sample political and communications tools, legislative and ballot initiative language, and information on where to obtain professional campaign advice, research and help.”

image003The transportationinvestment.org site features 39 detailed case studies of recent transportation funding campaigns—both successful and unsuccessful—mounted in 28 states.  It includes the actual television, radio and print ads, polling data, and media and coalition strategies used in the campaigns.  The site features a blog, which will be updated regularly with new developments and economic-based research and messaging developed by ARTBA to help frame the political debate.  An overview of funding and financing mechanisms utilized to support state and local transportation programs is also included.

Complementing the dynamic website site, the TIAC program includes an annual workshop to be held in Washington, D.C., and ongoing webinars for transportation investment advocates featuring case studies, best practices, and the latest in political and media strategies.

The inaugural “National Workshop for State & Local Transportation Advocates™” will be held July 16 at the Washington Court Hotel on Capitol Hill.  The workshop will be marketed to state and local chamber of commerce executives, state legislators, state and local transportation officials, “Better Roads & Transportation” group members, industry and labor executives, and leaders of state and local chapters of national organizations with an interest in transportation development programs.

The Transportation Investment Advocacy Center™ is a project of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association’s “Transportation Makes America Work!” (TMAW) program and funded through voluntary contributions and sponsorships. To become a sponsor or to make a contribution, contact TIAC staff directly through the website.

Established in 1902, ARTBA represents the U.S. transportation design and construction industry in the Nation’s Capital.

Meeting a Federal Highway Trust Fund Crisis: A Profile in Courage … and

ARTBAFebruary 28 is a special day in the history of the federal highway program and Highway Trust Fund that supports it.  On this day, 53 years ago, President John F. Kennedy (JFK) saw a threat to the nation’s future economic growth and security and grabbed the reins of leadership.

The year was 1961.  Americans were paying 27 cents per gallon for gasoline, including a 4 cents per gallon federal gas and diesel fuel tax to support capital investments though the federal highway program in their personal mobility and the nation’s economy and security.  The 2014 equivalents would be a 31 cents per gallon federal gas tax on a $2.11 gallon of gasoline.

“Our federal pay-as-you-go highway program is in peril,” JFK said in the first sentence of a “Special Message to the Congress on the Federal Highway Program” sent up to Capitol Hill that day.

The problem:  the user based revenue stream going into the Highway Trust Fund was not sufficient to sustain the level of authorizations necessary to keep the highway program running without going into deficit spending.  Kennedy told the Congress $900 million more dollars per year ($7.04B in 2014 dollars) was necessary.

“Our objective,” Kennedy said, “is to finance this program on a pay-as-you-go basis from… user taxes… at rates sufficient to pay the full cost of the program, without charge on general federal revenues… “The pay-as-you-go principle… requires an increase in the revenues from user taxes…”

It is clear, he said, “that a program essential to the nation, and to [the public’s] own welfare, requires that they cooperate in determining how present sources are to yield the additional revenues needed.”

Kennedy offered what he called “A New Plan to Finance the Highway Program.”  He urged Congress to sustain the federal gas tax revenue stream and increase the user fees on trucks—the federal diesel fuel excise increased from 4 cents per gallon to 7 cents; truck weight excise for vehicles over 26,000 lbs. from $1.50 per 1,000 lbs. to $5.00 per; the excises on sale of new tires from 8 cents per tire to 10 cents, the sale of tire inner tubes from 9 cents per to 10 cents, and tread rubber from 3 cents to 10 cents.

On June 29, 1961, the 87th Congress of the United States responded, approving the “Federal Aid Highway Act of 1961,” (Public Law 87-61), generally following the path outlined by the President.

The Highway Trust Fund crisis was averted.  Filling out and construction of the 41,000-mile Interstate Highway System and ongoing improvements to the 848,677 miles of state roads deemed worthy of federal investment due to their importance to the nation’s economy and security continued forward.   No American jobs were lost.

Footnote:   Despite claims to the contrary, the federal gas tax is not “broken” or “outmoded” as a mechanism to raise user revenue for the Highway Trust Fund.  The only problem with the gas tax as a revenue generator is that the rate has been frozen for 20 years and the rate has never been indexed, or adjusted, to keep pace with annual price inflation or to meet identified needs.  It is a fact that if Congress had indexed the 1961 federal gas tax rate of 4 cents per gallon to future annual inflation, the gas tax alone would be generating almost $56B this year for Highway Trust Fund investments.  There would be no 2014 HTF crisis looming October 1 that could shut-off federal investment for any new state transportation department highway, bridge and transit projects during FY 2015.  It is also a fact that today’s 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax has 50 percent less purchasing power than the 4 cents per gallon tax had in 1961.

Trust Fund in Crisis

TRIP Reports: As Harshest Winter In 30 Years Depletes Road Maintenance Budgets And Causes A Bumper Crop Of Spring Potholes, Nation Faces Looming Summer Cut To Federal Transportation Dollars

TRIPA bumper crop of potholes is emerging on the nation’s roads as a result of a winter that, in many regions, has been the harshest in 30 years.  Across the nation, more than a quarter of major urban roads are already in poor condition, and in some cities, as many as two-thirds of major roads are in poor condition. Those conditions were already projected to worsen due to a lack of transportation funding at the local, state and federal levels. But states and cities could experience even further deterioration as a result of the harsh weather conditions that have caused approximately three-quarters of states and many cities to exceed their snow removal budgets, forcing them to reallocate monies that would otherwise be available for road repairs.

Pavement failure is caused by a combination of traffic, moisture and climate. Moisture often works its way into road surfaces and the materials that form the road’s base, damaging their foundation. Extreme freeze-thaw cycles exacerbate the rate of pavement deterioration and can cause increased rutting and cracking.

Rough roads are more than just a nuisance for motorists. Driving on deteriorated roads costs the average urban driver $377 annually – a total of $80 billion nationwide.  In areas with the roughest roads, drivers lose as much as $800 each year. These costs include accelerated vehicle depreciation, increased maintenance, additional fuel consumption and tire wear. This is according to a report released by TRIP in October 2013 titled “Bumpy Roads Ahead: America’s Roughest Rides and Strategies to Make our Roads Smoother”.

The Federal surface transportation program is a critical source of funding for states. The impact of inadequate federal surface transportation revenues could be felt as early as summer of 2014, when the balance in the Highway Account of the federal Highway Trust Fund is expected to drop below $1 billion, which will trigger delays in the federal reimbursement to states for road, highway and bridge projects. Because of this funding delay and uncertainty, states will likely delay or postpone numerous projects.  And, if a lack of adequate revenue into the Federal Highway Trust Fund is not addressed by Congress, funding for highway and transit improvements throughout the nation could be cut by $44 billion for the federal fiscal year 2015, beginning October 1, 2014.

“America’s already deteriorated road conditions are only going to get worse if greater funding is not made available at the local, state and federal levels,” said Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director. “Unless Congress acts this year to adequately fund the Federal Highway Trust Fund, all states are going to see their federal funding decrease dramatically starting this summer. This will result in fewer road repair projects, loss of jobs, higher vehicle operating costs for drivers, and a burden on state economies.”

MIT Research Points to Importance of Road Design in Fuel Consumption

PCA LogopRecently President Barak Obama announced plans to introduce a rule for higher fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks by 2016. At an appearance at a grocery distribution center in Upper Marlboro, Md., President Obama charged Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to “develop fuel economy standards for heavy-duty trucks that will take us well into the next decade.”

According to the White House, heavy-duty trucks account for just four percent of highway vehicles, but are responsible for 20 percent of carbon pollution from the transportation sector. Current fuel-economy standards are aimed at reducing truck fuel use by as much as 20 percent.

Gregory M. Scott, president and CEO of the Portland Cement Association, said it is time to not only look at the efficiency of cars and trucks on the road, but to look at the actual road for fuel economy and emission reductions.

“We should expand the debate beyond making more efficient cars and trucks to making more efficient infrastructure. Stiffer pavements – such as pavements made from concrete — produce less rolling resistance and better fuel economy,” Scott said.

Researchers at the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub recently found that how the road is constructed could have a significant impact on the fuel economy of cars and trucks. Research models predict the use of stiffer pavements, for example, could reduce fuel use by as much as three percent, a savings that would add up to 273 million barrels of crude oil per year.

Florida International University tested MIT’s research models in real-world conditions with similar results. They studied vehicles traveling on I-95 and found that riding on rigid pavements consumes 3.2 percent less fuel than riding on flexible pavements for passenger vehicles and 4.5 percent less fuel for loaded tractor-trailers. If all Florida pavements were rigid, it could amount to an annual fuel savings of more than $2 billion for highway users.

About PC

Based in Washington D.C. with offices in Skokie, Ill., the Portland Cement Association represents cement manufacturing companies in the United States. It conducts market development, engineering, research, education, and public affairs programs. More information on PCA programs is available at www.cement.org.

Highway Trust Fund Fix Will Be “Painful Scenario” Without New Revenue, ARTBA Tells Senate Committee

image001Fixing the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) without generating any new revenue would require the equivalent of Congress passing and the president signing a 2013-level Murray-Ryan budget deal every year just to maintain current highway and transit program investment levels, American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President Pete Ruane Feb. 12 told a Senate panel. 

According to a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report, the HTF will be unable to support any investments in new projects come September, and will require, on average, $16.3 billion annually just to preserve the current transportation program.  By comparison, over a two-year period, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013—the Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) budget deal—reallocates resources to increase the non-defense discretionary spending cap by an average (ironically) of $16 billion per year.

Calling that process a “painful scenario,” Ruane warned the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee that if the HTF shortfall is not addressed, more than 12,000 highway, bridge and safety capital projects across the nation—on the routes most important to the U.S. economy—could be lost.

Ruane noted that trucks carry freight worth more than $11 trillion over the nation’s roads and bridges every year, and nearly 75 percent of that travel takes place on the federal-aid system.  “Without that federal investment in these roads, trucking mobility and economic productivity are at risk,” he said.

Ruane explained ARTBA’s economics team set about to research how the public’s federal gas tax dollars were put to use in 2012.  Unfortunately, it took a Freedom of Information Act request and sophisticated computer analysis of literally millions of data points to get answers.

Among the highlights he said the public deserves to hear:  the federal program helped fund 12,546 capital improvement projects (7,335 road, 2,407 bridge, and 2,804 road safety)—all focused primarily on the system that moves most of that $11 trillion.

“There are projects in every state.  Every one of them can be identified by name, and location, and by how much was invested in them,” he said, acknowledging that more transparency is needed so the public understands where its tax dollars are invested.

“We believe one of the federal program’s biggest problems is that government at all levels does a poor job of telling the American public how their federal gas and diesel tax dollars are invested each year,” Ruane added.  “We believe the public would be impressed and widely support this federal program if they knew the full story.”

He told Senators the average American household spends roughly $160 per month for cell and landline phone service, and only $46 per month through state and federal motor fuels excises to support the road, bridge and transit systems they depend on every day.

 

“If the public was asked to invest each month as much as they willingly spend on cell and landline phone service, we would not be here talking about the Highway Trust Fund problem.  We would be providing Americans with the first-class transportation network they deserve,” Ruane concluded.