Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Parlous State of US Infrastructure Stirs the Road Freight Haulage Lobby Into Action

ATA Hopes to Convince the President It's Time for a Rise in Gas Taxes
Shipping News Feature
US – The American Trucking Associations (ATA) reports optimism following this week's meeting of President Donald Trump and Democratic congressional leaders, however one wonders, having seen the subject, whether this might be little early in the process to start getting excited. That's right folks, the ATA wants a gas tax to pay for infrastructure repairs. A road haulage lobby looking to raise fuel prices, never been known!

Increasing the rate of duty on US fuel has ended political careers in the past. Like gun control this is a subject that Americans feel is a God given right, and, as with the second amendment the ‘right’ to cheap fuel is one which most politicians are terrified to speak up on lest they be summarily tossed from office. The transport infrastructure in the US is, in places, in a parlous state, crumbling highways and bridges constantly making the news.

In 2011, when he was in office as then US Secretary for Transportation, Ray LaHood, pointed out how America’s infrastructure was failing. After leaving he felt able to speak frankly and lambasted politicians for failing to raise the gas tax for over twenty years. The Highway Trust Fund has had repeated problems funding the most basic and essential repairs.

Now the ATA has hopes that President Trump, the great climate change denier, will back their calls for a rise in fuel prices, rather the opposite to the situation in the UK where complaints from road freight groups support the FairFuel UK campaigns. The ATA has proposed a five-cent increase in the fuel user fee over four years as part of the Build America Fund, a total twenty-cent increase that it says would generate $340 billion in funds for immediate investment in the nation’s roads and bridges.

The ATA was also one of dozens of business and labour groups to send a letter to the president and congressional Democrats urging them take real, bipartisan action on infrastructure. CEO Chris Spear, commented:

“Defining the scope of the problem and outlining a vision to address it is an excellent start, but action is what is needed next. When these leaders reconvene in three weeks, we call on President Trump and Congress to demonstrate the kind of courage that Presidents Reagan and Clinton once did and advance an infrastructure bill with real increases in revenue, the kind of immediate funding that can only come from increasing the fuel tax.

“Americans are literally wasting billions of dollars and millions of hours stuck in traffic because there has not been the necessary investment and maintenance of our nation’s roads and bridges. We are encouraged to hear President Trump, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer and other key Congressional Democrats are in agreement on a ‘big, bold’ vision to invest as much as $2 trillion on our deteriorating infrastructure.

“The trucking industry is intimately familiar with the issues our nation faces due to deteriorating roads and bridges, and we have a tool that can generate $340 billion over the next 10 years to fix our bridges and fill potholes across the country. The fuel tax is the one funding tool in the toolbox that pays for itself by users. It is the most effective, efficient and yes, conservative, way of generating the amount of money we need to do the job.”

Photo: In 2014 a US government report stated 70,000 bridges were ‘structurally deficient’ prompting a ‘Falling Apart’ piece by CBS 60 minutes.