By Dave Bauer, senior vice president of government relations, ARTBA
The ARTBA co-chaired Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) is urging Congress to release an explicit timeline of when it will act on a long-term revenue solution for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) as part of any future extensions of the federal highway and public transportation programs. With members of Congress now openly discussing another temporary program extension, the TCC points out in a May 6 letter to the bipartisan leadership of the House and Senate that the HTF patch and program extension enacted in July of 2014 was promoted as a path to a long-term reauthorization bill.
“The simple fact is Congress has had nearly 10 months and all the necessary information to finalize ‘a long-term solution to the Highway Trust Fund’ and yet we are right back to the same scenario, with the same rhetoric, and, potentially, the same ‘solution’ as took place last July,” the TCC wrote.
The letter also emphasizes how continued uncertainty about future federal highway and public transportation investment disrupts the implementation of long-term state transportation plans.
“States, on average, rely on federal highway funds to support more than 50 percent of their highway and bridge capital improvements and award contracts well in advance of the start of any project,” noted the TCC. “Due to uncertainty about future federal funds, states have already delayed more than $1 billion in planned transportation projects that would have been part of this construction season.”
The TCC concluded with a call to end the cycle of short term extensions and temporary trust fund patches: “The next surface transportation extension should be of limited duration and include an explicit timeline detailing when the tax committees and the full Congress will act to generate the revenues needed to stabilize and grow highway and transit investment. That way we can ‘save’ construction seasons for the next 10 years.”
The 31-member TCC is co-chaired by the Associated General Contractors of America and its members include the major construction trade unions and virtually all national associations representing the different components of the transportation construction industry. View a copy of the letter.