During a recent interview with Politico’s Mike Allen, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx noted that the nation’s transportation system is “in a huge ditch.” Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) unveiled its idea on how to get America out of that ditch with their GROW America proposal. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because that was the original title of the previous federal surface transportation program proposal unveiled by the Obama Administration last year. The key difference this year is that the Administration has identified a specific funding source, taxing overseas corporate profits, to pay for the $478 billion, six-year bill.
The GROW America proposal, among other things, would:
• Increase the nation’s overall investment in transportation by 45%, with a 29% increase in highway spending and a 76% increase in transit spending;
• Provide $18 billion for a multi-modal freight program that strengthens America’s exports and trade;
• Include $28.6 billion for passenger rail programs;
• Double funding for the TIGER competitive discretionary grant program and create a new $6 billion highway and transit competitive grant program; and
• Double the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program which encourages utilization of innovative financing mechanisms.
USDOT published a state-by-state impact of the benefits of GROW America investment which included ASCE Report Card data on state needs and economic impacts. The GROW America Act is an important legislative marker that seeks to define the debate about the need to increase federal infrastructure investment in order to meet current and future capacity and maintenance challenges. Funding certainty is important to states for delivering projects, as the six-year time frame supports, but of additional importance is the need to increase overall federal funding. The current revenue rates have not risen since 1993 and since that time the cost to deliver projects has increased. Since 1993, in real terms, the average federal highway dollar has lost over a third of its purchasing power. Please urge your members of Congress to act now to grow the federal surface transportation program and fix the Highway Trust Fund.