Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Infrastructure gets only D+ in engineers' report, to nobody's surprise; trucking weighs in

Friday, March 10, 2017
by DOROTHY COX/The Trucker Staff

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has just released its four-year report card on the nation’s infrastructure and it wasn’t good news, to no one’s surprise.

Overall, America’s infrastructure got a D+, with roads only slightly better at a D grade and bridges at a C+. Only rails had a good grade at B and ports got a C+. Even hazardous materials rated a D+ grade.

“It’s just another sign of how desperately our country needs to move forward on a plan to rebuild and improve our infrastructure,” said Sean McNally, American Trucking Associations’ vice president of public affairs and press secretary. David Heller, vice president of government affairs for the Truckload Carriers Association, echoed ATA’s response, that the report was indeed “stating the obvious.”

As always, funding is critical, and among the ideas the ASCE put forth was to raise motor fuel taxes by “at least” 25 cents a gallon and tie it to inflation, something similar to what trucking has been saying all along.

“We’ve always supported increasing fuel taxes, provided the funds go only to roads and bridges,” said Norita Taylor, spokesperson for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

“We generally support an increase in fuel [taxes] indexed with inflation and we continue to discuss funding and will get behind other [funding] mechanisms if the membership chooses,” said Heller. “We’re at a critical point with the Trump administration and we’re excited to see what that  will consist of.”

The report also called for “dedicated public funding at all levels” of government and said that infrastructure owners and operators must be willing to pay and Americans must be willing to pay for improvements as well — not just to roads and bridges but to water, waste and energy infrastructure.

It’s a tall order, but one that gets taller the longer nothing is done.

Funding a competitive infrastructure is so important that it’s costing the American economy $3.9 trillion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) the longer it’s ignored, the report noted.

The ASCE calls for prioritizing the most necessary infrastructure projects and setting those right the first thing.

It also suggests requiring all projects with more than a $5 million price tag and receiving federal dollars to have a life-cycle cost analysis plan; creating funding incentives for state and local governments and the private sector; streamlining the permitting process for projects; and earmarking projects that the private sector would likely get behind and fund. It didn’t say how these would be done.

The ASCE determines the quality of the infrastructure every four years and issues its report.

This 2017 report “should be a catalyst for stakeholders, for Congress and the [Trump] administration to come together on the kind of bill we need to make serious improvements,” ATA stated. 8




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