Stressing that a cost-effective, well-maintained, safe and efficient transportation system is essential to economic growth, job creation and global competitiveness, a group of construction materials organizations is urging the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to consider the state of the nation's surface transportation system as part of its deliberations.
The committee will begin meeting in September with the mandated goal of finding an additional $1.5 trillion debt savings over 10 years.
In a letter, representatives from the American Concrete Pavement Association, the National Asphalt Pavement Association, the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association and the Portland Cement Association acknowledge the challenges of the current fiscal environment and agree the surface transportation programs are not immune from review and reform.
In its letter, however, the coalition calls attention to the fact that the current transportation law expires on Sept. 30 and that meaningful legislative progress has not materialized to solve the financial challenges confronting the Highway Trust Fund.
The user-fee-financed Highway Trust Fund has functioned well, but since 2000 balances have declined due to the fact that the federal motor fuels tax has not been adjusted since 1993. “This has resulted in a 30% reduction in the purchasing power of the Highway Trust Fund dollar and is woefully insufficient to support the growing investment needs associated with our aging and deteriorating surface transportation system,” the coalition wrote.
It further contended, “No funding solution should be off the table, but it is imperative that funding certainty be brought to the surface transportation program and current funding levels maintained while we transition to a new funding mechanism and upgrade the transportation system for the 21st century.
“The time to be bold is now and to address the long-term sustainability of the Highway Trust Fund and funding the nation's surface transportation network,” the coalition concluded.