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Entries in Federal Highway Trust Fund (33)

Wednesday
Feb222017

Those who spend the most time on the road are pleading to pay more for gas. Here’s why.

Star-Telegram

February 22, 2017

WASHINGTON- As President Donald Trump and lawmakers in both parties roll out massive infrastructure plans, no one seems to be willing to consider the hottest, most vexing piece of that legislative puzzle: raising the federal gasoline tax.

Suddenly, the effort has an important new ally: the nation’s railroads.

Motorists and truckers pay the same 18.4 cents and 24.4 cents a gallon, respectively, they did when Bill Clinton was president from 1993 to 2001. But those pennies don’t buy what they did in 1993.

The tax was enough to pay for the federal share of building and maintaining the nation’s roads, bridges and transit systems. But every year since 2008, when the shortfalls started, lawmakers have punted on higher taxes. Instead, they’ve transferring ever larger amounts of general revenues into the Highway Trust Fund to keep it running.

As of last year, Congress had poured $143 billion into the fund’s depleted coffers since the shortfalls began.

Read on...

Thursday
Feb092017

Industry coalition asks Trump for long-term Highway Trust Fund fix

Progressive Railroading

February 9, 2017

A coalition of transportation, construction and labor organizations has asked President Donald Trump to shore up the Highway Trust Fund with a long term, dedicated user-based revenue source as part of the administration's infrastructure investment plan.

In a Feb. 1 letter to Trump, the coalition agreed with the president's position that the nation's infrastructure is insufficient to support American competitiveness. Any "responsible proposal" should call for improvements to all types of infrastructure that help businesses reduce shipping, commuting, water and energy costs, the letter stated.

Organizations that signed the letter included the American Public Transportation Association, American Association of Port Authorities, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), American Council of Engineering Companies, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO.

Read on...

Thursday
Oct062016

No simple solutions: Paying for infrastructure to move the nation's cargo

Agri-Pulse

October 3, 2016

This article is the fourth in a seven-part series that Agri-Pulse is publishing to give readers perspective on the history and status of the many parts of America's infrastructure and improvements needed to help farmers and ranchers remain competitive and prosperous.

The next time you bite into a piece of fruit, grill a steak, or spoon into a carton of yogurt, consider how the item got from the farm to your home - and who paid for the trip. Let's take a broad look at how the country finances the highways, runways, railroads, ports and river navigation structures, and who pays for the trucks, rail cars, ships and barges that move the nation's cargo. The answer is that we all pay, but in much more varied ways even than the country's assorted transport modes themselves.

Just how large is transportation infrastructure anyway? By way of total asset value, investments in all of those transport modes are about a fourth of all U.S. infrastructure investments as estimated in an analysis by the GailFosler Group, based on Congressional Budget Office data. The other three-fourths are for the whole gamut of schools, colleges, water and sewer systems, communications and electric power systems, and other utilities.

Also, national investment can be tallied as either government or private. For the benchmark year of 2004, GailFosler segregated infrastructure investment to about 15 percent by the federal government and the rest split at about 42 percent by private interests and a like share by state and local governments combined.

Where transportation infrastructure is concerned, the long-term national trend, whether provided by private industry or public agencies, has been toward recovering investment costs from those who are served - charging them freight fees and sundry special taxes and assessments on the cargos and/or the trucks, ships and barges used to move them. Also, often imposing special taxes and fees on the fuel that the carriers burn.

That trend has entered the big data era, too, when highly sophisticated ways to collect reimbursement for infrastructure spending is on the table: for example, metering miles traveled by cars and trucks and taxing them per mile - something that Oregon is already offering some drivers as an alternative to paying fuel taxes. Yet, some rural advocates complain that a “vehicle miles traveled” or VMT fee could unfairly disadvantage those in rural areas who often have to drive long distances to work. Read on…

Thursday
Oct222015

New Poll Shows Public Supports Federal Infrastructure Investment

Majority of Americans Believe a Tax Increase is Necessary to Repair Roads

American Trucking Associations

October 20, 2015

A new national poll released today found strong support for federal investment in highway infrastructure.

The poll, the second commissioned by American Trucking Associations, was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies between August 30 and September 1, surveyed 800 registered voters on their attitudes about politics, the trucking industry and the state of infrastructure.

“The results of this poll should be taken very seriously by members of Congress as they work to complete a long-term highway bill,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “This poll tells us the American people now believe what we’ve been saying for some time: our roads and bridges are in need of repair and we need to raise revenue to do it.”

Among the poll’s findings were:

  • Infrastructure spending is second only to education (by a 64-60 margin) the area the public thinks more money needs to be spent.
  • The number of people who believe more needs to be spent on infrastructure has risen 12 points – from 48% in 2014 to 60% this year.
  • Forty percent of the public thinks infrastructure should be a top priority for federal spending.
  • Sixty-three percent of Americans believe our roads and bridges are not being properly maintained.
  • And a majority of Americans – 53% - believe it will be necessary to raise taxes to properly maintain roads and bridges.

Read on...

Presentation of National Trucking Survey by ATA

Friday
Oct162015

Poll: 70 percent of US residents want more road funding

The AAA poll showed 70 percent of U.S. residents think "the federal government should invest more than it does now for roads, bridges and mass transit systems."

The Hill

October 13, 2015

Seventy percent of U.S. residents want Congress to increase the amount of money it spends on transportation projects, according to a new poll released on Tuesday by the AAA auto club.

The finding comes as lawmakers are facing an Oct. 29 deadline for renewing federal infrastructure spending.

The AAA poll showed 70 percent of U.S. residents think "the federal government should invest more than it does now for roads, bridges and mass transit systems."

The group's president, Marshall Doney, said the findings should spur Congress to pass a long-term transportation bill instead of settling for a temporary patch at the end of the month.

“Americans rely on our nation’s roads and bridges every day, yet Congressional inaction has led to longer commutes, more potholes and unsafe conditions,” Doney said in a statement. “Motorists are dissatisfied that our national leaders repeatedly have failed to meet the basic needs of drivers across the country.”   Read on...

Wednesday
Sep302015

Hoeven, Senators, Western Governors Meet to Move 6-Year Highway Bill; Bill Includes More Than $1.6 Billion for ND

Meeting participants. Left to right, Bullock, Daines, Rounds, Daugaard, Thune, Enzi, Mead, Barrasso, Hoeven and Dalrymple.

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven and Senate colleagues today met with a group of four western governors to advance a six-year federal highway bill. The governors were on Capitol Hill to meet with members of the Commerce and Appropriations committees to develop a strategy for passing a long-term transportation bill that will give states the certainty they need to begin large infrastructure projects.

The Senate passed a new six-year highway bill in July that will provide North Dakota with more than $1.6 billion. The formula is favorable to North Dakota and increases highway funding for the state to $270 million, about $30 million a year more than it currently receives.

“A strong, long-term highway bill is important not only for the western states, but for the entire country,” Hoeven said. “The fact that five western governors would make the trip to meet with us underscores the importance of this bill to their states’ economies. The current transportation bill will enable important infrastructure projects to move forward, which will create jobs, grow our economy and improve safety.”

Governors Jack Dalrymple (R-N.D.), Steve Bullock (D-Mont.), Dennis Daugaard (R-S.D.) and Matt Mead (R-Wyo.) were in Washington with the Western Governors’ Association to meet with lawmakers on critical issues to their states.

The Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act reauthorizes the nation’s transportation programs for six years. The six-year Senate bill provides $350 billion in contract authority for the 2015-2021 period. The measure makes up for a lack of highway trust fund revenues by adding about $45 billion in offsets. The bill does not increase the deficit or increase taxes.

DRIVE Act Highlights for North Dakota:

  • Increases Transportation Funding for North Dakota by maintaining the federal aid highway formula structure and increasing the amount each state will receive every year:
  • North Dakota will receive an average of $270 million a year in highway formula funding over six years, an average of $30 million more than the state receives today.
  • Makes completing transportation projects easier by making National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) reforms, cutting red tape.
  • Provides six years of increased funding, giving state and local governments the certainty and stability they need to improve and develop our nation’s transportation infrastructure.
  • Increases Transit Funding to North Dakota by approximately $1 million a year, increasing from more than $14 million in the first year to more than $17 million by the sixth year. Overall, the bill increases public transportation funding nearly $1.5 billion over MAP-21 levels.
  • Improves Safety:  The bill’s safety and regulatory title makes important enhancements for safer highways as well as freight and passenger rail service through effective implementation of new technologies, new tools for federal safety watchdog agencies, reforming grant programs for states and transparency that promotes accountability.
  • Includes a New National Freight Strategy and Strategic Plan to improve freight transportation networks that serve agriculture, retail, manufacturing and energy sectors.
  • Includes the Federal Permitting Improvement Act to improve the permitting process for major capital (more than $200 million in investment) projects across sectors, including energy.
  • Assistance for Major Projects (AMP) Program to provide grants for large projects of national or regional significance and includes at least a 20 percent set aside for rural areas.

Original News Release from Senator John Hoeven (ND)

Thursday
Sep242015

USDOT, More Business Groups Push for Bill Action as Congress Juggles Deadlines

AASHTO Journal

September 18, 2015

Top officials from the U.S. Department of Transportation pressed Congress to pass a substantive long-term surface transportation bill before 2015 runs out, while scores of industry groups urged lawmakers to end a cycle of short extensions and provide the economic lift a long-term bill can bring.

Increasingly in recent days, lawmakers focused on a range of other looming issues with closer deadlines, including the need to agree on a government-wide funding plan before the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year or face a potential government shutdown.

House Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., has not yet scheduled a markup session for his committee's version of a long-term highway, transit and rail programs authorization. He has said he expects that to occur late this month or early in October.

Congress will also need to extend the Federal Aviation Administration, whose authority is set to expire that same day, to avoid interrupting some of its programs that affect a number of state departments of transportation. Politico reported that Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune, R-S.D., said he and Shuster have been discussing how to move an FAA extension, perhaps by attaching it to a short-term government funding bill.

The Highway Trust Fund is authorized through Oct. 29, which takes it past the Sept. 30 end of the federal fiscal year and would leave the Federal Highway Administration unaffected during a possible government shutdown before then.   Read on…

Friday
Sep182015

What the latest Highway Trust Fund ticker tells us

U.S. Department of Transportation - When we published our latest Highway Trust Fund ticker last month, it created some confusion.  Some observers misconstrued the numbers to indicate that the Highway Account of the Trust Fund will be “out of the woods” for many months to come.  That is hardly the case.  Indeed, the trust fund could be facing rocky seas and therefore need additional funding from Congress before the end of the year, potentially as soon as this coming November.

With the recent funding infusion that Congress authorized in July, we anticipate the cash balance of the highway account staying above zero until June 2016, but that is far from the whole story.

Given the volatility of revenues and expenditures and the uncertainty of very micro-level projections, DOT must consider employing methods to conserve cash once the balance of the highway account falls below a prudent threshold. The latest transfer from the General Fund keeps the account's cash balance above the prudent level of $4 billion, but only until November 2015.   Read on…