Coalition to Committee on Deficit Reduction: Surface transportation program must be considered in mission

Stressing that a cost-effective, well-maintained, safe and efficient transportation system is essential to economic growth, job creation and global competiveness, a group of construction materials organizations is urging the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to consider the state of the nation’s surface transportation system as part of its deliberations, according to the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA).

The committee will begin meeting in September with the mandated goal of finding an additional $1.5 trillion debt savings throughout 10 years.

In a letter sent this week, representatives from the American Concrete Pavement Association, the National Asphalt Pavement Association, the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association and the Portland Cement Association acknowledge the challenges of the current fiscal environment and agree the surface transportation programs are not immune from review and reform.

In its letter, however, the coalition calls attention to the fact that the current transportation law expires on Sept. 30 and that meaningful legislative progress has not materialized to solve the financial challenges confronting the Highway Trust Fund.

The user-fee-financed Highway Trust Fund has functioned well, but since 2000, balances have declined due to the fact that the federal motor fuels tax has not been adjusted since 1993. “This has resulted in a 30-percent reduction in the purchasing power of the Highway Trust Fund dollar and is woefully insufficient to support the growing investment needs associated with our aging and deteriorating surface transportation system, “the coalition wrote.

It further contended, “No funding solution should be off the table, but it is imperative that funding certainty be brought to the surface transportation program and current funding levels maintained while we transition to a new funding mechanism and upgrade the transportation system for the 21st century.”

“The time to be bold is now and to address the long-term sustainability of the Highway Trust Fund and funding the nation’s surface transportation network,” the coalition concluded.

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Based near the nation’s capital, NSSGA is the world’s largest mining association by product volume. Its member companies represent more than 90 percent of the crushed stone and 70 percent of the sand and gravel produced annually in the U.S. and approximately 106, 700 working men and women in the aggregates industry. During 2010 a total of nearly two billion metric tons of crushed stone, sand and gravel, valued at $17 billion, were produced and sold in the United States.

[NOTE: Click here for full text of letter.]