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Friday, 21 February 2014 13:17cat

Transportation Secretary Calls for Long-Term Transportation Bill

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The current U.S. transportation bill expires in September The current U.S. transportation bill expires in September Joe Anhalt

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx discussed the United State’s “massive infrastructure deficit”, in his speech yesterday, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce transportation conference.  His goal is to create a long-term transportation bill by the end of the year.  He believes that “a one- or two-year Band-Aid won’t cut it this time.”  Foxx did not provide any details about the length of the bill or the amount of funding needed to avoid “crippling” the U.S. economy.

Foxx is receiving support from Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer. She would like to see a five- or six-year deal instead of a bill similar to the current statute that only lasts for 27 months. Boxer will have her proposal ready to be voted on by her committee in April. The current highway-transit bill, called the 2012 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, will expire on September 30.  The Congressional Budget Office projects that a six-year transportation bill would need to add $100 billion to the current spending levels to meet the country’s demands.

Boxer, Foxx and many other transportation experts will speak at an event hosted by the American Association of States Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) next week. The Highway Trust Fund’s threat of insolvency will be one of the major issues that will be addressed at the event. Under the current funding scheme, the Highway Trust Fund will not have enough resources to meet all of its obligations in 2015. The fund will need $15 billion from Congress in 2015 to avoid bankruptcy. This, is in addition to the $41 billion from the general fund that Congress gave the Highway Trust Fund in 2008 and the $12.6 billion of funding scheduled for this year.

Meanwhile, a new Bridge Act is being developed on Capitol Hill. The bipartisan plan would set up an independent financing authority that would help out state and local governments fill the gap between necessary funding and what the federal government is providing. The program would attract private investments for transportation projects, and the authority would finance 49% or less of a project’s cost.

Sources: ENRWall Street Journal

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