A Plant Grows Near the 'Burgh

ARTBA Task Force Outlines Policy Priorities for Next Federal Surface Transportation Bill

Mon July 29, 2019 - National Edition
ARTBA


Members of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) are rolling out a comprehensive legislative blueprint with their vision for the future of the U.S. infrastructure network, with emphasis on expanded investments in the National Highway Freight Network.

The new 32-page report, "Road to the Next Federal Highway & Public Transit Investment Bill," was developed by the association's re-authorization task force, comprised of 27 public and private sector transportation design and construction executives. The group was co-chaired by Paula Hammond, senior vice president of WSP USA in Seattle, Wash., and Tim Duit, president of Oklahoma-headquartered Duit Construction.

"President Trump and members of Congress have repeatedly spoken about the challenges facing the nation's aging transportation network since the 2016 elections. It's time for the talk to stop and the work to start," ARTBA President Dave Bauer said. "The foundation for the next bill is a permanent revenue solution for the Highway Trust Fund that will support increased highway and public transportation investment.

"Our report identifies a series of user-based options that could help achieve this goal and also includes meaningful policy reforms to help maximize the effectiveness of those additional resources."

Bauer said ARTBA is sharing its report with key members of Congress and the nation's governors. Senate Environment & Public Works Committee leaders say they are planning to mark up their portion of a re-authorization bill by August 1. House leaders have not indicated when action will proceed in that chamber.

The current FAST Act highway and public transit investment law expires Oct. 1, 2020.

Among the report's major recommendations:

  • Address federal investment shortfalls through user-fee based revenues. Options include an increase in the federal motor fuels tax, a one-time federal excise tax on electric vehicle batteries, and a user fee capturing value from freight movement.
  • Provide flexibility for states to make key project-level decisions.
  • Require transparency and accountability measures so taxpayers can better see how federal-aid dollars are being invested.
  • Reform and improve the Transportation Infrastructure & Finance Improvement Act (TIFIA) program, lift the cap on Private Activity Bonds for highway projects and eliminate the federal ban on tolling interstate highways.
  • Establish a commission to assess and make recommendations to improve the regulatory environment for federal-aid highway and transit projects.
  • Repeal the century-old proprietary products rule that stifles innovation and continue investment in research and new technology for America's highway systems.
  • Increase safety in work zones through better implementation of positive protection, benefiting highway workers and motorists.
  • Invest in workforce development efforts specific to transportation construction and related industries.

Read the full ARTBA report.

For more information, visit www.artba.org.