A New Year’s Resolution for Congress

New-Year_Resolutions_listEver get tired of reading about the Highway Trust Fund (HTF)? It seems like every other day a new politician is stressing the importance of transportation infrastructure, yet Congress continuously fails to reach a long-term transportation funding plan.

Heading into 2014, people were hopeful for a long-term bill. Unfortunately, Congress was unable to work out a plan. Instead, Congress passed a HTF patch that will fund transportation projects through May 2015.

Heading into 2015, everyone is once again hopeful for a long-term bill.

“Although Congress passed a short-term Highway Trust Fund patch and an extension of our surface transportation programs in MAP-21 through May 31, 2015, the longer we wait to find a long-term funding solution for our critical infrastructure the worse it will be,” Senator Barbara Boxer said in October 2014.

It’s getting to the point where people don’t so much care about how transportation projects are funded, we’re just tired of the back and forth between politicians, and we’re tired of temporary HTF patches. It’s time for a long-term funding solution.

That’s certainly not to say people don’t have their own opinions on how transportation projects should be funded. In a recent survey by SKDKnickerbocker and Benenson Strategy Group, two-thirds of Americans were clearly against increasing the gas tax.

Currently the HTF is funded by the federal fuel tax, which has remained at 18.4 cents per gallon for gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel since 1993 without any increase for inflation.

Although some members of Congress would like to ignore it, the current fuel tax rate is no longer sufficient enough to fund the country’s transportation infrastructure.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that something needs to be done. The condition of America’s roads and bridges are deteriorating at a rapid rate and there isn’t enough money to repair them as necessary. As the population grows, new roads and bridges need to be built, but unfortunately several projects throughout the United States have been postponed until long-term transportation funding is secured.

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Whether the ultimate solution is a mileage tax like the Oregon Department of Transportation plans to test, private funding which would ultimately mean more toll roads, a higher gas tax, or a combination of all three – Congress needs to get its act together.

It’s time for Republicans and Democrats to put their differences aside, and do what’s best for the country’s transportation infrastructure. The time to fix the Highway Trust Fund is now!

I certainly hope I’m not writing similar stories heading into 2016.