Transportation Investment: What Would Reagan Do?

Today on the floor of the House of Representatives members read aloud the text of the U.S. Constitution in its entirety. They also received a message sent to their offices by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA). It reminded lawmakers that the Constitution (Article 1, Section 8) embraces transportation investment as a core function of the federal government and noted that Jan. 6 is the anniversary of a significant federal transportation milestone.

Twenty-eight years ago today — Jan. 6, 1983 — President Ronald Regan signed into law the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982. The law increased the federal gasoline and diesel tax by five cents per gallon (the first increase since 1961) to expand investments in highways, bridges and mass transit. The added revenue helped reverse the 1970s trend that saw our highways and bridges deteriorating faster than they could be repaired, according to ARTBA.

President Reagan said as he signed the legislation: “Common sense tells us that it will cost a lot less to keep the system we have in good repair than to let it disintegrate and have to start over from scratch. Clearly, this program is an investment in tomorrow that we must make today.”

In the association message, ARTBA President & CEO Pete Ruane said, “Congressional passage of a robust multi-year federal highway and transit program reauthorization bill is more than 15 months overdue. Investing in America’s future competitiveness and economic growth through transportation should be a top priority of the new 112th Congress. And all transportation financing options should be on the table.”