Uncle Sam asked to get serious about highway investment

by Canadian Shipper

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) is pushing Washington for a minimum $50 billion per year federal investment in highway, bridge and transit programs as part of congressional reauthorization of the federal surface transportation programs in 2003.

The ARTBA federal highway investment minimum target is based on data in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s 1999 report to Congress on the condition and investment needs of the nation’s surface transportation system.

The report makes clear that a $50 billion annual federal investment is necessary just to maintain current highway and bridge conditions and system performance, ARTBA says, when its data are adjusted to reflect anticipated increases in inflation and traffic growth.

ARTBA points out that there will likely be a $17 billion per year funding gap between anticipated federal highway investment in FY 2003, the last year authorized by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), and the $50 billion investment needed.

Actually making significant conditions and performance improvements would require more than a $50 billion federal program, the U.S. DOT data suggest. In fact, the agency report shows cost-benefit analysis would support a $65 billion per year federal highway improvement investment, ARTBA says.

“The Federal-aid Highway Program should no longer be viewed by the Congress, the Executive Branch, the media and the public as ‘just a construction program,'” the ARTBA plan says. “It is rightly put in a larger context. Today, its successes — and shortcomings — impact virtually every aspect of American business and quality of life.”

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