The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) has joined the Highway Materials Group (HMG) and members of Congress in calling for passage of a trillion dollar federal infrastructure funding package to begin repairing America’s aging roads and bridges.
In a press conference coinciding with Infrastructure Week and the Transportation Construction Coalition Fly-In, leaders of the trade associations urged lawmakers to draft legislation to begin rebuilding critically needed infrastructure. They noted that with the Highway Trust Fund expiring in 2020, the time for action is now.
Bipartisan members of the House headed by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3) and Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL-13) joined representatives from an array of companies and associations to highlight the importance of sustainable federal infrastructure funding.
“Every day we don’t act to improve our nation’s infrastructure, we fall further behind our global competitors,” says Blumenauer, chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee’s Tax Policy Subcommittee. “It is past time that we step up and demonstrate the courage necessary to pass a comprehensive infrastructure bill. I look forward to working with the Highway Materials Group and vast array of supporters in finally delivering for the American people.”
“Since 2003, federal spending on infrastructure has decreased by 20% when adjusted for inflation,” says Davis, ranking member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee’s Highway & Transit Subcommittee. “We need major investment in our infrastructure if our economy is going to continue to thrive.
"I’m encouraged by the interest of both parties to get something done on infrastructure this Congress, but we have to figure out a way to pay for it," he adds. "I believe it is long past time to consider ways to diversify funding streams for transportation projects, and it’s the only way to guarantee long-term sustainability. I’m looking forward to continuing these conversations throughout Infrastructure Week and as we work to get a bill done.”
Speaking on behalf of NRMCA, Chairman and CEO of U.S. Concrete and NRMCA Chairman Bill Sandbrook called on President Trump, the House and the Senate to arrive at a funding solution.
“We are not here to point fingers—rather this is an historic opportunity," says Sandbrook. "The last big infrastructure deal with dedicated user-financing was enacted in 1982. The Trump Administration and Congress have an opportunity to do something equally historic as the bipartisan deal President Ronald Reagan struck with Congress."
However, Sandbrook adds that infrastructure can’t happen without dedicated funding, noting that an increase in the gas tax is the only realistic option and is where presidential and congressional leadership is required.
"The federal gas tax was last increased in 1993. The highway and transit funds face a $171 billion shortfall just to maintain current spending. Can you live off what you made in 1993? Well infrastructure sure can’t. There is no other viable short-term option to raise the money necessary," he continues. “These are acrimonious times, but Washington must hear that they were elected to serve the people. We the people want an infrastructure system that will propel our children and grandchildren into a safe and sustainable future. Inaction is not an option.”
The National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association and the Portland Cement Association echoed Sandbrook’s remarks.
“Almost 40% of the bridges in this nation are so old they would qualify for AARP membership,” says NSSGA Chairman Bob Weldon. “Our nation is facing a backlog of more than $800 billion in highway and bridge capital needs. Our organizations, and the men and women we represent, are urging Congress to focus on funding meaningful infrastructure investment.”
“Now is the time for the President and Congress to work together in a bipartisan manner to increase the gas tax, which is the most efficient means in the short term to pay for the needed improvements to the nation’s highway and transit systems,” says Michael Ireland, CEO of the Portland Cement Association, in a prepared statement.
Underscoring the message of Infrastructure Week, the HMG also released an ad, “Life Won’t Wait,” that is being aired on local stations in the metro-DC market, highlighting the impacts to daily life from a lack of investment for infrastructure.