What are our options for solving infrastructure crisis?

By Joseph Evangelist

Executive Vice President, Transervice
As originally appeared in FleetOwner Magazine’s IdeaXchange

In February, members of the transportation sector advised the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee they needed to find a sustainable way to fund an infrastructure bill.

I know I have written about the need for infrastructure improvements in this space before, but unfortunately, the problem persists with no end in sight.

Ray LaHood, former Transportation Secretary, suggested one solution for the infrastructure problem: increasing and indexing the fuel tax by approximately 10 cents. He thinks this will bring needed money quickly to the Highway Trust Fund. This is not to rule out other funding sources like tolling, but the current opposition to tolls means they are not as likely to provide the quick infusion of cash we so desperately need.

While increasing fuel taxes or increasing tolls are not favored topics, there are not many alternatives. The key would be that all money raised via these alternatives be earmarked for and spent on infrastructure repairs and not reallocated to other projects.

There are some in Congress suggesting things like charging motorists for the miles they travel as a way to fund infrastructure repairs and improvements.

And while today there may not be agreement on how to fund infrastructure improvements, there is agreement on the fact that something needs to be done quickly as roads and bridges continue to crumble and traffic congestion in certain parts of the country is having a very negative impact on goods movement.

The way I see it, there needs to be a combination of several things since no one solution is going to create enough money to address the current problems with our infrastructure.

First and foremost, the government needs to do the initial funding to get many of the more serious problems addressed immediately. I think the increase in the diesel and gas taxes is inevitable. An increase in tolls on the heaviest traveled highways needs to be seriously considered, along with adding tolls on many of the secondary roads to provide maintenance of these roads going forward.

The bottom line is that we can’t keep ignoring this issue. At some point, if we don’t start making improvements to the highways and byways, the impact will begin to affect timely deliveries and that affects all of us.

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