This Week in Infrastructure: Infrastructure Won’t Fix Itself

Photo Credit: Mike

Photo Credit: Mike

It is not a news flash that America’s infrastructure needs serious attention and investment. In light of increased attention to our nation’s surface transportation needs, many states are proposing increasing the gas tax to fund transportation.  In addition, there has been an uptick in the number of news stories highlighting the need to be more strategic in the way we fund infrastructure.

After chunks of concrete fell this week from a bridge on the DC Beltway in Maryland onto a moving vehicle, Manager of Public and Government Affairs at AAA Mid-Atlantic said “this is yet another reminder of why transportation funding in Maryland is so critically needed.” This incident prompted Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to underscore the necessity of providing funding to maintain and repair the nation’s bridges.  Pennsylvania’s bridges have also received media attention lately, with 22 percent of the state’s bridges classified as structurally deficient, making it the highest percentage in the country.

In an effort to fund their aging transportation infrastructure, more and more states are considering gas tax increases. Iowa is proposing a 10-cent gas tax hike that would generate close to $215 million a year for Iowa’s road system. Utah is recommending a bill to raise diesel fuel by 10 cents per gallon for road and bridge maintenance. Georgia is considering a $1 billion transportation funding plan that would steer gasoline tax revenue toward asphalt and concrete repairs.

Though increasing state-level gas taxes is a step in the right direction, long-term, sustainable federal funding is critical to restore the nation’s infrastructure, as the states need the federal government to continue being a trusted partner in transportation projects. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told Congress this week that temporary funding patches do not provide enough money for states and local governments to finance “badly needed long-range construction projects,” noting that the Obama administration has proposed a measure to spend $478 billion over the next six years.

As states continue to make decisions with limited budgets, one tool that can help them make the most of the investment is life cycle cost analysis. Vox recapped a study by Smart Growth America, reaching similar conclusions to ASCE’s Maximizing the Value of Investment Using Life Cycle Cost Analysis report. Increased investment is essential in maintaining our transportation system in a state of good repair. By using effective planning tools such as life cycle cost analysis coupled with an increased investment, America will be better equipped to modernize its transportation system.

Regardless of states’ efforts to fund transportation infrastructure, the Highway Trust Fund is headed towards insolvency in a matter of months. If there is no fix it will be detrimental to every state and our economy It’s imperative that members of Congress work together to pass legislation that will provide a sustainable, long-term funding solution to #Fix-the-Trust Fund.

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