Federal Highway & Transit Program Reauthorization in Jeopardy: Your Help Needed to Prevent Unnecessary Delay
Before adjourning for its August break, the House and Senate took steps to shore up the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund’s (HTF) Highway Account through September 30. Left unaddressed was the HTF’s precarious financial situation for FY 2010, which begins October 1. There is little doubt that another General Fund transfer will be necessary to avoid a massive shortfall in federal highway investment to the states.
Also unresolved is the timing of the next multi-year highway/transit authorization investment bill. The Obama Administration and some in the Senate continue to push for an 18-month delay on the legislation—a move that ARTBA, the Transportation Construction Coalition, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and labor unions all oppose.
Meanwhile, a new study from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation found that deficient roadway conditions are the number one contributing factor in U.S. motor vehicle crashes—greater than drunk driving, speeding, and not wearing a safety belt. The poor roadway environment causes 22,000—or more than half—of the 42,000 deaths that occur annually on U.S. highways. The report concludes that new investments aimed at building more protective and forgiving roadways would significantly help reduce highway fatalities and costs.
Throughout August, members of Congress and their staff will be hosting town hall meetings and will be available for constituent appointments back home. They need to hear from you about the importance of timely action on the surface transportation bill. Remind them that from 2001 to 2005—during the last highway/transit reauthorization—uncertainty at the federal level during a time of economic and state budget difficulty led to an overall stagnated national effort to deliver surface transportation improvements. Continued uncertainty during many months—or years—of delay this time could also serve to undercut the benefits of the recent stimulus act’s transportation investments.
How You Can Help
You can reach members of Congress and their staffs at their state and district offices, or in their Washington, D.C., offices by calling the ARTBA Action Hotline at 1-888-448-2782. Deliver the following messages:
- 22,000 Americans die because of deficient roadways each year. That’s 22,000 reasons why Congress should complete action on a multi-year bill, either by the end 2009 or in early 2010.
- Action on a bill is a critical follow up to the stimulus law and will help promote job creation and economic recovery. It is the real “second stimulus.”
- Urge them to speak with their colleagues on the House Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committees and make generating sufficient revenue for a $450 billion bill a priority.
- Tell them about your company’s personal story, and how inaction and delay will lead to layoffs and deferred purchases.
Surface Transportation Reauthorization: Now is the Time for Action, Not Further Study and Delay!