An in-depth report on the state of the highway construction funding controversy direct from the Transportation Construction Coalition Fly-in and Rally for Roads...
This Construction News Tracker brought to you by Caterpillar and produced by ForConstructionPros.com.
With just a matter of weeks remaining before the present federal highway funding bill is estimated to run dry industry officials representing some 25 organizations gathered for the Transportation Construction Coalition Fly-in and Rally for Roads in Washington D.C., and ForConstructionPros.com was there.
What is needed right now is a patch in the present fund to keep projects alive through September. Congressman John Mica of Florida said: "There appears to be shared sentiment for a patch to the present funding, to keep projects alive; however, that's not the impression we got when addressing a long-term highway trust fund bill."
Congressman Dan Webster, an Orlando area republican, wants to tie new funding to the popular TIFIA program and turn it into a revolving equity trust to be known as TIFIA 2.0.
A bi-partisan plan from senators Chris Murphy, democrat from Connecticut, and Bob Corker, of Tennessee, would see the gas tax raised by six cents in each of the next two years and indexed to inflation. They claim it would generate $164 billion over the next 10 years, thus eliminating the perpetual highway trust fund shortfall.
Another payment idea is the President's $302 billion Grow America plan over four years - an increase of 22 percent in spending but gives some control over to local governments.
And yet another from a couple of republicans, Senator Mike Lee of Utah and Congressman Tom Graves of Georgia, to slash the present highway gas tax down to 3.7 cents a gallon from its present 18.4 cents, transfer highway building dollars back to states, and set up block grants for the authority over five years.
At least two democrats favor an increase in the gas tax or a new one based on oil production. They were outlines at the TCC Fly-in. Those ideas, however, are not shared by republicans who control the House.
The person who now holds the House Transportation Committee gavel, Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania, had the least encouragement for TCC attendees.
A $12 billion dollar funding patch to bridge the gap through the spring of 2015 is on the Chairman's plate. This doesn't sit well with many construction industry leaders, among them Richard Patek, president of Astec Industries and Board Chair of AEM.
There you have it, the pros and cons and in betweens of TCC and Rally for Roads 2014. The next chapter waits to be written.
Finally, life is a yo-yo. Mankind ties knots in the string just to keep it interesting.