ACEC’s Darr Notes Urgency of Infrastructure Investment in New Podcast

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America’s infrastructure was built on hard work, ambition and the best in engineering, but also with an eye toward tomorrow. Yet today it sits with an aging transportation network and little certainty about what that network will become without political will and a purposeful vision for the future.

Solutions to fix and sustainably grow the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and modernize the nation’s infrastructure are needed now, says American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) President and CEO Linda Bauer Darr in the newest podcast from the Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) Coalition.

Multiple experts and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) have cautioned that America will face a collapsing HTF after 2020 without assured revenue to cover surface-transportation expenses and needed investments. A span of options — including a fee based on vehicle miles travelled, incentivizing and increasing private investment and raising the federal gas tax — have all become part of the national conversation.

“If everybody gives a little, we’re going to get a lot from it,” adds Darr while discussing what she calls an “enormous need” in our country.

The federal excise tax on gasoline today is 18.4 cents, a rate that was last raised in 1993. “If tax rates had been indexed for inflation since 1993, the current tax on gasoline would be about 31 cents per gallon and the tax on diesel fuel would be about 42 cents per gallon,” according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. “Before 2008, highway tax revenue dedicated to the trust fund was sufficient to pay for outlays from the fund, but that has not been true in recent years. Since 2008, Congress has sustained highway spending by transferring $140 billion of general revenues to the fund, including $70 billion in 2016 because of legislation enacted at the end of 2015.”

This means the public, cities, towns and businesses throughout the United States are facing increasing and real-time lost productivity, economic opportunities, money and ease of mobility due to strained and underfunded infrastructure.

However, Darr also notes that funding and fixes are necessary because lagging infrastructure and an aged transportation network continue to cost American lives too. In 2016 alone, 37,461 people died in motor vehicle crashes on our nation’s highways, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Darr joined ACEC in 2018 and oversees a federation of 52 state and regional councils representing more than 600,000 engineers, architects, land surveyors and other specialists. The organization is over a century old, and its primary mission is to strengthen the business environment for its member firms through government advocacy, political action, and business education.

ACEC is a member of ATM.

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