“Time to Build” is the message more than 300 organizations are trying to spread to Washington, D.C., and across America as part of a week-long initiative to raise awareness to elevate infrastructure spending as a priority.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the nation’s only organization representing professional and small-business truckers, wants Congress to take the lead in making fuel taxes a primary avenue for funding highways.
“Small-business truckers know firsthand that our nation’s economy relies upon a solid, safe and efficient highway system,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA. “But the success of that piece of our infrastructure means the government must take a proactive role in the investment of its maintenance and expansion.”
In March, the American Society of Civil Engineers issued its Infrastructure Report Card. ASCE gave American infrastructure a grade of D+, highlighting the need for infrastructure funding. A “D” rating indicates the infrastructure is poor and at risk.
Every four years, ASCE rates the country’s 16 major infrastructure categories using an A to F scale similar to a school report card. In 2013, ASCE rated the infrastructure a D+ and estimated an investment of $3.6 trillion will be needed by 2020.
U.S. roads were given a grade of D, as ASCE noted they are “often crowded, frequently in poor condition, chronically underfunded, and becoming more dangerous.”
Infrastructure issues affect Americans’ pocketbooks as well, with delays estimated to cost the nation $160 billion in time and fuel in 2014.
Bridges remain stagnant from the last report with a C+ grade, which is the same grade ASCE issued to America’s ports. Of 14 total categories, only rail infrastructure graded out as a “B” or better.
The issue of federal funding of highways has been a challenge for policymakers because of attitudes toward raising fuel taxes. OOIDA, however, believes that the most efficient way to raise funds is with fuel taxes, both diesel and gasoline. This is opposed to looking to private-public partnerships, the sale or lease of existing roads, or efforts to convert roads into tolled roads.
“Tolls are taxes,” said Spencer. “Making highway users pay both tolls and fuel taxes amounts to double taxation. We encourage Congress to take a leadership role in ensuring responsible use of taxpayer dollars.”
Infrastructure report card reveals dire need for action