American Public Works Association (APWA) President Bill Verkest testified on Monday, March 19, before the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission. Verkest joined a panel of 30 key transportation stakeholders to discuss performance improvement of the nation's transportation system.
"Increased state and federal funds are urgently needed for local transportation system improvements," said Verkest. "A funding and financing crisis looms and we must act accordingly. Our local officials need support to make our transportation system safer for all users, motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists."
On behalf of APWA, Verkest offered several key recommendations to the commission, including raising the current federal motor fuel tax rate to restore the purchasing power lost to inflation since it was last increased in the 1990s. He also urged the commission to expand the use of financing mechanisms such as public-private partnerships, tolling, congestion pricing and "pass through financing."
Additionally, Verkest recommended that transportation funding solutions include utility system and enterprise fund models; that incentives be developed for technology-based approaches such as vehicle-mileage fee systems; and that local governments be given the right incentives to begin or continue generating funds in their communities through voter-approved sales tax and bond programs, transportation fees, increased maintenance programs and dedicated taxes.
Congress created the commission under section 1909 of SAFETEA-LU. Comprised of 12 members, the commission is reviewing current conditions and future needs of the nation's transportation system as well as alternative revenue sources.