Friday, November 6, 2015

Highway Trust Fund Deal Finally Agreed to Relief of Trucking Lobby

World's Richest Country Still Won't Pay the Price of Gas Though
Shipping News Feature
US – The US House of Representatives has approved the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform (STRR) Act 2015 which will see an investment of $325 billion in six years to improve the country's crumbling infrastructure and rationalise transportation programmes and projects, a long-needed and overdue solution to the troubled Highway Trust Fund that the trucking industry has long been calling for, though the decision doesn’t quite cover all the bases considering the funding only pays for works in the first three years.

The bill also re-authorised the Export-Import Bank Charter to until 2019 which has been held up in Congress since it expired earlier this year in June. A similar bill had already been approved by the Senate in July, authorising $350 billion over six years which also only covered the first three years. It is now up to both the House and the Senate to resolve the differences between the two bills before it goes to President Obama. This is still the furthest anyone has been to resolving the issues surrounding the Highway Trust Fund which has been relying on short-term patches since 2008 with 35 being the last count as of the end of last month.

The $325 billion House bill calls for federal spending of $261 billion on highways and $55 billion on transit projects over the next six years, only if Congress can come up with a way to finance the last three years. Funding this bill is still a major problem with the House Rules Committee blocking any proposed increases in the Gas Tax, a great source of income for the Highway Trust Fund, with the House seeing off a suggested 15 cents per gallon increase on the current 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax, a rate that would still leave the country comfortably under worldwide average gas prices.

Photo: A wrecked car rests on the collapsed Interstate 5 Bridge after it collapsed into the Skagit River in 2013. Miraculously nobody in the wrecked vehicles was seriously hurt.