Construction groups launch TV ad to push for federal road funding

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Updated May 18, 2020
Screen shot from new Transportation Construction Coalition TV adScreen shot from new Transportation Construction Coalition TV ad

Trade associations that represent the construction industry have launched television and online ads and a grassroots campaign to pressure Congress and the president to increase spending on infrastructure as a way to stimulate the economy and create jobs during the pandemic.

You can view the TV spot by clicking here.

The Transportation Construction Coalition, which consists of 31 groups led by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association and the Associated General Contractors, says increased long-term investment in roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure can lead the country out of the recession.

“The campaign’s primary message is that reopening, renewing and revitalizing the economy starts with passage of a robust, multi-year transportation bill that creates jobs and keeps goods and services like medical supplies quickly moving to their destinations – now and for decades to come,” says an ARTBA news release.

The coalition is aiming its “Re-open, Renew and Revitalize Campaign” at Capitol Hill to influence elected officials and their staffs, including top Republican and Democratic Senate and House leaders.

The campaign involves TV, Facebook and online ads. The ads direct leaders in Washington to where the coalition lays out its position.

“The best way to ensure the nation’s economic recovery is by rebuilding our aging transportation systems,” the statement on the coalition’s website reads. “There are few public sector actions that can deliver the same level of short- and long-term ‘economic shot in the arm’ as robust transportation infrastructure investment.”

The statement notes that the nation’s infrastructure is deteriorating rapidly and has been underfunded for decades. It cites recent U.S. Department of Transportation data that 230,000 bridges need repair or replacement and that 36 percent of transit facilities are in poor condition. “Pavement conditions on one in five miles of federal-aid highways need improvement.”


House bill would add $15 billion for states

Increased funding for infrastructure has long had bipartisan support. However, the funding source has been the main hurdle, with raising gas taxes being the sticking point. Calls for increased infrastructure spending seemed to be gaining momentum for inclusion in the third round of stimulus legislation passed last month to help the economy, but it was not included.

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House Democrats released a new $3 trillion stimulus proposal May 11 that includes $15 billion in highway funding to help states, which are seeing a large drop in gas-tax and other road-related revenues because of the pandemic. The proposal is expected to be voted on in the House this week and also calls on the federal government to increase its share of highway funding up to 100 percent, according to Roll Call. Senate Republicans have wanted to pause further spending, citing deficit concerns caused by previous multi-trillion-dollar stimulus packages. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials estimates $50 billion will be needed to replace the lost revenue to states due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, one major transportation funding source for states is set to expire in September. And the nation’s Highway Trust Fund is forecast to run out of money by 2021, according to pre-pandemic forecasts.

“If we don’t put a robust infrastructure plan in place soon, the country is going to pay for it and for a long time. In fact, the costs will be far greater than a good highway bill,” said ARTBA Chairman Steve McGough during an April 29 call with U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and other high-ranking transportation officials in the Trump Administration.

“After the Great Recession of 2008, it took eight years – until 2015 – for the levels of highway and street construction activity to return to 2007 levels.”


Who’s in the coalition?

Along with ARTBA and AGC, members of the Trade Construction Coalition are: Associated Equipment Distributors, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, National Asphalt Pavement Association, National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, Portland Cement Association, American Concrete Pavement Association, American Subcontractors Association, Asphalt Emulsion Manufacturers Association, Asphalt Recycling and Reclaiming Association, National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, National Steel Bridge Alliance, National Utility Contractors Association, Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute, The Road Information Program, American Council of Engineering Companies, American Iron & Steel Institute, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Traffic Safety Services Association, International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron, International Union of Operating Engineers, Laborers’ International Union of North America, American Coal Ash Association, American Concrete Pipe Association, Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute, International Slurry Surfacing Association, Laborers-Employers Cooperation & Education Trust, National Association of Surety Bond Producers, National Electrical Contractors Association, United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners of America.