When it comes to finding the money to fix our fading infrastructure, it’s starting to feel like déjà vu all over again.
On the day when everyone is thinking about taxes, those of us in the transportation industry are also thinking about the sad state of our highways and infrastructure. Congress is back in session after their spring break, so it’s time to finally get something substantial passed. Unfortunately, it looks as though our hopes of a long-term highway funding bill are just that…hopes. The reality is that the U.S. Congress will likely pass another short-term fix; but since highway funding authority expires on May 31, Congress needs to approve that short-term funding bill sooner rather than later.
A Transport Topics article last week quoted Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who stated that even though the expiration date might be reached without a new bill approved, the spending on construction projects wouldn’t end immediately. According to Foxx, “There would still be funding available through probably late July, early August.” That is cold comfort for those of us who have to conduct our business along these roads that are badly in need of repair.
Last August, we published a blog, Highway Trust Fund’s Quick Fix Not the Optimal Answer that discussed this very issue. At that time, an emergency funding bill for $11 billion had just been passed. Since the Federal Highway Administration estimated, at that time, that it would take $170 billion in capital investment on an annual basis to significantly improve condition, it was obvious that that $11 billion bandage was not going to do much. And here we are again.
We’re not sure what it’s going to take to get the years-long funding bill that is necessary, but something needs to be done. Otherwise, our industry, our equipment, and our people will continue paying the price for inaction in safety, delays, and cost.
What do you think it would take to get Congress to move on the kind of highway funding we need? Let us know your thoughts.