Congress returns, infrastructure needs pile on

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Congress is back in session and has a lot of approaching deadlines, including both the surface transportation reauthorization and federal aviation administration reauthorization about to expire. With Labor Day and summer traffic behind us it is critical for Congress to invest in our surface transportation needs so that our nation’s roads don’t fall into even further disrepair during another harsh winter.

Anthony Foxx addressed the need for Congress to remember the original vision of the Highway Trust Fund in his remarks at the National Press Club. “I firmly believe that on a bipartisan basis we are in a moment where Congress can achieve a bipartisan bill that helps us carry the work forward,” he told them.

In response to dwindling federal funds, more states are taking measures into their own hands to ensure they have the funding needed to improve their transportation networks. Tennessee is currently facing a multi-billion dollar backlog of highway projects across the state, so the Governor has started discussing his plan to raise the gas tax. “We know that we can’t depend on the federal government to be the funding partner that it once was,” Gov. Haslam said. In order to prepare for increasing population needs, the state needs to prioritize projects to address the most pressing projects, and is considering a gas tax increase as a potential solution.

Indiana is another state that needs more money for infrastructure projects. In response to the growing list of projects that the DOT classifies as critical for the state, legislators are considering a mileage-based tax as well as a gas tax as options for generating funds.

In addition to highways, freight and passenger rail are in need of modernization. To move goods efficiently, it takes a “transportation village” and investing in better safety technology will improve our overall freight movement system. While Congress has a lot on their plate, hopefully they will prioritize infrastructure and  help strengthen the economy. As we await the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee’s mark-up of its multiyear surface transportation bill, write your members of Congress and urge them to pass a long-term transportation bill by the October 29 deadline.

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