The American Concrete Pavement Association (ACPA) acknowledges the work and efforts of the President and Congress in taking action on the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and the extension of the current highway and public transportation programs.
This statement follows reports yesterday that the President signed into law a short-term measure which will transfer nearly $11 billion into the Highway Trust Fund and extend the HTF and extend the highway and transit programs from September 30 until May 31, 2015.
Although this, the fifth and latest temporary trust fund “patch” in seven years comes as a relief to the transportation-construction industry, ACPA continues to emphasize the need for longer-term solutions to meet the needs of the nation’s federal-aid highway system.
The actions of the President, as well as the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, staved off depletion of the Highway Trust Fund and allowed the programs to continue at current levels. Failure to take action, particularly on the HTF, would have required the U.S. Transportation Department to cut to funding for highway construction, rehabilitation, and preservation projects. Failure to act also would have put 700,000 jobs at risk, according to the Administration.
“Although this measure avoids drastic cuts that would have adversely affected our industry, state agencies/owners, and others in the transportation-construction community, we remain very concerned about finding long-term solutions to address the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) issue and the critical needs of our nation’s highways,” says Gerald F. Voigt, P.E., ACPA President & CEO. “We urge Congress and the Administration to work on addressing the HTF situation, as well as to support long term legislation that allows companies to invest in the future and agencies to adequately plan for the current and future needs of our highways.
“Along with our other partners in the Highway Materials Group, we remain committed to a six-year surface transportation authorization to stabilize and grow the Highway Trust Fund, as well as the four re-authorization principles that have been circulated to all Members of Congress.”
These principles include:
- Increased investments needed to maintain and expand the highway system essential to meet the competitive demands of the global economy;
- Fulfillment of the Constitutional responsibility as provided in Article 1, Section 8 to “establish Post Offices and post Roads,” which are the precursor of the National Highway System;
- Retention of the user-fee based system that ensures all users of the highway system contribute toward its construction, maintenance and rehabilitation; and,
- No more delays, which only makes the investments necessary to highways, roads, and bridges, more difficult and expensive.
Voigt explained that more than a decade’s worth of short-term legislation and temporary fixes to the Highway Trust Fund have impeded the ability of many state agencies and private companies to make capital investments, to plan ahead, and to invest in the technologies necessary to remain competitive in the marketplace.
“Although the industry and agencies have adapted to austere budgets and anemic funding levels, the familiar guidance of ‘doing more with less’ has meant stagnation, lingering high unemployment, and an overall weakening of the highway and heavy construction industry, not to mention weakening our infrastructure. Agencies have been increasingly forced to cover up real problems, instead of fixing them properly. This is analogous to putting a paint job on rotten wooden siding,” he says.