WASHINGTON — Acknowledging that before President Donald Trump and Congress can work together to develop an infrastructure plan, the Highway Trust Fund shortfall must be addressed, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves said Thursday the only viable solution to the program is to initiate a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) program.
“We’ve kicked this can down the road so many times already, pretty soon we’re going to kick it completely off the map,” Graves said during his opening remarks at a committee hearing on “The Cost of Doing Nothing: Why Investing in Our Nation’s Infrastructure Cannot Wait.”
Congress is going to consider a number of options to address this problem, but Graves said he believes the only viable future lies in a transition to a VMT program.
“I see this as the best way to ensure that everyone contributes to the Highway Trust Fund and helps maintain and improve our surface transportation system,” he said. “VMT is already being applied at the state level, and it’s time to pursue this solution nationally.”
Graves said in proposing a VMT, he was not suggesting that “big brother” would be tracking motorists’ every move.
“Protecting Americans’ privacy is critical, and we can absolutely do a VMT program without intruding upon people’s privacy,” he said.
Graves pointed to time and technology as being key to implementing an infrastructure plan.
“Time is money, so any delay in the project delivery process consumes valuable and limited resources that could be used for other potential improvements,” he said. “Streamlining project delivery – while continuing to protect the environment – is a priority for the Administration, and it will continue to be a priority for me.”
The Missouri Republican said America will never have the infrastructure system it needs and deserves if it doesn’t do a better job of incorporating technology.
“Compared to other countries, our infrastructure is falling behind, and in some cases falling apart,” he said. “Technology is rapidly developing, but our infrastructure doesn’t always reflect those advancements. That needs to change.”
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