Political Drama in D.C. Not an Excuse for Ignoring Infrastructure

Safe and modern infrastructure and renewed federal investment in America’s transportation system continue to be a focus for the business and labor sectors but, increasingly, for the public and regional media as well.

Without new federal legislation, the Highway Trust Fund — which provides monies for the United States’ national transportation system — will not have enough revenue to meet ongoing project-funding demands.

Dr. Richard Willis (Ph.D.), Vice President for Engineering, Research, and Technology (ERT) at the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA), recently spoke with Karl Magenhofer, News Director at WSVA in Harrisonburg, Va., about the need for federal action on infrastructure. The interview was during an Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) Coalition Radio Media Tour (RMT).

Magenhofer, in discussing Interstate 81 in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, asked Willis if the “lack of care” and “dilapidation” of U.S. infrastructure reflect a dearth of funding.

Willis noted that the main source of revenue for the nation’s transportation system is funding that benefits partnerships between state agencies and the federal government and is derived from the federal gas tax.

But that user fee was last adjusted in 1993 and is not indexed for today’s costs. Therefore, while America faces mounting infrastructure needs, the revenue stream required to meet these needs is not growing.

Willis also pointed out that Virginia receives about 70 percent of its transportation funding from the federal government.

Aging infrastructure includes surface transportation such as public transportation, highways, bridges and roads. But it also covers other modes, such as ports and airports, and other structures and assets, such as rural broadband, dams and waste-water facilities, that are key to well-functioning economies and societies.

NAPA is a member of ATM and represents more than 1,100 companies involved in asphalt pavement mix production and construction across the United States.

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