Road revenue gap worries transportation officials

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Updated Sep 14, 2017

Despite vehicle miles traveled reaching a record high, collections for the federal Highway Trust Fund have been flat for the last 10 months of the current fiscal year, according to the AASHTO Journal of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

The fund, which is composed of federal gas taxes and taxes on commercial trucks, trailers and truck tires, is used to pay for federal highway and transit programs.

AASHTO’s Board has called on Congress and President Donald Trump to fix the trust fund as part of a new infrastructure investment package. AASHTO cites a recent Federal Highway Administration report that vehicle miles traveled on all U.S. roads increased 1.6 percent during the first six months of 2017 for another all-time high.

AASHTO Executive Director Bud Wright says the fund’s current revenue structure can’t keep up with the infrastructure needs. “Instead,” he says, “we are losing ground as trust fund receipts lag while the system faces more and more demand.”

Survey indicates Americans OK with higher taxes, tolls

In a separate report released Monday, HNTB Corp. says 70 percent of Americans are willing to pay higher taxes and tolls for road improvements and maintenance. That percentage rises to 84 percent if the revenues are guaranteed to only be used for infrastructure, according to the HNTB’s “Paying for Infrastructure – 2017” survey.

The survey also says 80 percent support adding tolls to existing highways.

The survey polled 1,027 Americans over age 18 between July 14 and 16.

HNTB provides design, engineering, construction management and other services for public and private infrastructure projects.