The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) has completed a report that states the cost of meeting highway needs in the U.S. is $50 billion a year. In fact, for improvement, a likelier spending level would be $65 billion annually.
"While some may not want to hear it, it is clear that an increase in the federal motor fuels excise will be necessary just to maintain the nation's surface transportation status quo," ARTBA officials stated in a news release. "Depending on the revenue options chosen by Congress, any objective analysis would show that up to a 10-cents-per-gallon increase in the federal motor fuels excise--eight cents for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) account and two cents for the HTF Mass Transit Account--may be necessary."
ARTBA's analysis, based on needs information taken from the Federal Highway Administration's latest Conditions and Performance Report, applies inflation and traffic-growth data to information on unmet need within the C&P document.
Considering the size of the resulting financial gap--about $17 billion per year--ARTBA suggests several approaches are possible, including ending the subsidy for ethanol, broader use of innovative financing and lowering the balance in the HTF.
A gas tax increase, ARTBA concedes, would likely be the most effective of the choices based on past experience.