Trucking industry lobbyists, transportation officials, equipment manufacturers and a host of other concerned businessmen and women sent a letter to Capitol Hill today urging that congressmen pass a “robust” long-term highway funding bill before May of next year when funding runs out, and protesting the “devolution” of the federal-aid program.
The letter called funding under the Transportation Empowerment Act or TEA “ill-conceived,” and stated that “by stripping away most federal funding for surface transportation projects” it would “virtually eliminate the federal government’s constitutionally mandated role in promoting interstate commerce.”
By 2019, it said, financing for the federal aid highway program will have dwindled by 80 percent, from $45 billion to less than $8 billion.
TEA is supposed to be maintaining the interstate system but interstates require at least $17 billion annually just to maintain current levels and more than $33 billion a year to make improvements, the letter stated.
Letter writers pleaded with Congress to pass a bill providing administrative and regulatory relief to recipients of federal aid transportation revenue and noted that devolution of the federal aid program won’t allow states to retain revenue that is currently deposited in the Highway Trust Fund. Under “devolution, this money simply goes away,” the letter stated, “forcing state and local governments to replace tens of billions of dollars with tax increases or redirection of their existing resources.”
“If TEA passed and states replaced the lost revenue with an increase in their fuel taxes, on average their gas taxes would have to increase by 16 cents and some states would have to raise their taxes by more than 30 cents,” it noted.
The letter stated that such “devolution” represents “abandonment of Congress of its constitutional obligation to promote interstate commerce … .”
It urged Congress to “act now” to avoid prolonging the infrastructure funding crisis “that is the result of failure to provide long-term stable funding for transportation.”
The letter was signed by AAA; the American Association of Highway and Transportation Officials; the American Concrete Pavement Association; the American Highway Users Alliance; the American Road and Transportation Builders Association; the American Society of Civil Engineers; the American Trucking Associations; the Associated Equipment Distributors; the Associated General Contractors of America; the Association of Equipment Manufacturers; the Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute; the National Asphalt Pavement Association; the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association; the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association; the National Utility Contractors Association; the Portland Cement Association; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
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