AASHTO to Congress: Fix Broken Highway Trust Fund

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The primary federal funding mechanism for transportation infrastructure projects will run out of money once the FAST Act expires in 2020, says Bud Wright, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

AASHTO is urging Congress to fix the “broken” Highway Trust Fund (HTF) before its funding expires. The trust fund is “not going to be able to sustain the current program” of highway and transit spending once the five-year Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act ends, according to AASHTO.

The primary revenue source for the HTF is the federal gas tax, which hasn’t been raised since 1993. As a result, the fund only brings in about $34 billion annually compared with the $50 billion the government spends each year on transportation projects.

The roughly $16 billion shortfall has led Congress to bail out the HTF with more than $40 billion from the Treasury over the past seven years, money that necessarily comes from borrowing or diversion from other programs.

Establishing a “long-term, sustainable source of funding for transportation” is a top policy priority for AASHTO and its members, Wright said in an interview with Transportation TV. “We know we have a Highway Trust Fund that’s broken.”

AASHTO and several other industry groups recently wrote a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to find a long-term, user-based revenue source for the HTF and not to rely solely on private funding for the administration’s infrastructure investment plan. That letter, which was cosigned by the American Public Transportation Association, American Association of Port Authorities, American Council of Engineering Companies, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO, among others, was also sent to both chambers of Congress.

AASHTO officials plan to meet with federal lawmakers, including House and Senate transportation committee leaders, to discuss state transportation infrastructure funding needs. AASHTO and the other signatories to the letter said that although they support the inclusion of private investment in infrastructure, it can never be expected to replace public funding.

Source: American Shipper

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