The International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA), a Washington, D.C.-based association representing toll facility owners, operators and vendors, has released a statement calling the U.S. Senate passage of H.R. 5021 (the Highway and Transportation Funding Act) an incomplete solution. The bill funds the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) through the end of 2014.
“Today’s Senate passage of the Highway Trust Fund patch does not negate the need for a long-term solution to our country’s infrastructure funding crisis,” says Patrick D. Jones, executive director and CEO of IBTTA. “Congress must develop a comprehensive plan to address the critical funding needs of our nation’s surface transportation system.”
Jones has nonetheless called on Congress to bring the bill to President Obama. “In the interim, we encourage Congress to quickly resolve any differences between the House and Senate bills to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent.”
Among further actions recommended by the IBTTA, as spelled out by Jones, are:
- “We support an increase in the federal gasoline and diesel excise taxes, which have not been increased since 1993, to preserve the integrity of the federal Highway Trust Fund and provide funding certainty to states.
- “In addition, we urge Congress to lift the ban on tolling existing lanes of interstate highways for purposes of reconstruction, as the Obama Administration proposed in its Grow America Act.
- “Rebuilding the interstate highways will cost hundreds of billions of dollars over the next several decades, and current funding sources alone are not equal to the task. States should have the flexibility to use tolling if it makes sense for them.”
In his statement, Jones also quotes a five-year old National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission document with this warning: “The roots of our current crisis lie in our failure as a nation to fully understand and, more important, act on the costs of deferred investment in our surface transportation infrastructure, especially in the face of an aging infrastructure, a growing population, and an expanding economy. This problem will only worsen until Congress addresses the fundamental fact that current HTF revenues are inadequate to support current federal program spending levels.”
Jones also urged bipartisan cooperation to craft a long-term bill. “We stand with the members of that congressionally appointed commission in calling for long-term, comprehensive and sustainable solutions to fund and finance America’s roads, bridges and tunnels. Bipartisan ideas like the fuel tax increase introduced by Senators Murphy and Corker and the historic Obama Administration proposal to lift the ban on tolling existing lanes of interstate highways for purpose of reconstruction must be considered if we are to achieve a long-term solution.”
Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) President & CEO Brian McGuire released the following statement regarding final passage of legislation to patch the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) (H.R. 5021) and keep federal surface transportation programs operating through May 2015.
"While we're relieved that H.R. 5021 is on its way to the president's desk, this isn't a moment to celebrate," McGuire said. "By waiting until the last minute to solve a problem we've known for years was coming, Congress brought the highway program and the construction industry to the brink of disaster. We hope this exercise has underscored to everyone on Capitol Hill that the Highway Trust Fund is in dire shape and needs additional revenues, be it from a gas tax increase or some other source. Providing the infrastructure that allows the economy to function is a core obligation of federal government. Now it's up to Congress to fulfill that obligation and put the HTF back on the road to long-term solvency."