The State of Transportation
The Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) Coalition is a collaborative effort of business, labor, and transportation stakeholders advocating for improved and increased federal investment in the nation’s aging and overburdened transportation system.
America’s transportation network is a vast system that connects people and places, moves goods and boosts our economy, and ensures our quality of life and safety. The country’s transportation system is comprised of interstates, regional roads, bridges, public transit, airports, ports, and interchanges/connectors affecting thousands of communities, multiple industries and job sectors.
We Got It Done
After years of nonstop advocacy and never-ceasing reports about the declining state of the nation’s infrastructure, President Biden signed the historic bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) Nov. 15, 2021.
The next phase, which will include the implementation stage, is important as well as regions seek funding for projects. Other issues will parallel these as continuing to advocate for ongoing and certainty in funding remain top of mind.
What’s In It?
It is a $1.2 trillion investment that is critically needed to:
— create jobs;
— integrate new technologies;
— support the business sector;
— get goods delivered;
— ensure the public a good quality of life;
— improve our global standing and workforce development; and
— boost the American economy.
It Was Separated Out
The Chamber-led Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) and other groups were among those who asked for the federal bill to be considered as a stand-alone piece of legislation after months of waiting and watching on how things would proceed in the House. A bipartisan group of policymakers further worked on a budget and content framework after the bill originally passed the Senate in the summer.
It Drew Bipartisan Support — A Can-Do American Takeaway
Nineteen Republican Senators supported the bill as did 13 key Republican House members. During a tough political climate, it was a victory that proves that Americans can always work across the aisle to do the right thing and shirk partisanship.
Here are the 19 Republican Senators who voted in favor of the bill:
— Roy Blunt, Missouri
— Richard Burr, North Carolina
— Shelley Moore Capito, West Virginia
— Bill Cassidy, Louisiana
— Susan Collins, Maine
— Kevin Cramer, North Dakota
— Mike Crapo, Idaho
— Deb Fischer, Nebraska
— Lindsey Graham, South Carolina
— Chuck Grassley, Iowa
— John Hoeven, North Dakota
— Mitch McConnell, Kentucky
— Lisa Murkowski, Alaska
— Rob Portman, Ohio
— James Risch, Idaho
— Mitt Romney, Utah
— Dan Sullivan, Alaska
— Thom Tillis, North Carolina
— Roger Wicker, Mississippi
Here are the 13 House Republicans who voted for the bill:
— Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon
— Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick;
— New York Reps. Andrew Gabarino, John Katko, Nicole Malliotakis and Tom Reed;
— Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez;
— Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger;
— West Virginia Rep. David McKinley;
— New Jersey Reps. Chris Smith and Jeff Van Drew;
— Michigan Rep. Fred Upton; and
— Alaska Rep. Don Young.
The bill makes milestone investments in rural broadband, clean drinking water, passenger rail, bridge upgrades and rebuilding, resilient infrastructure, ensuring equitable access to mobility for rural, suburban and urban communities, funding for ports and airports and interstates/roads across our immense nation, and electric charging stations and greener systems.
The law also helps keep the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) solvent. The trust fund, through a federal gas tax, provides revenue for federal programs and allocations to state departments of transportation.
President Biden signed the bill, considered the most significant investment law in transportation and infrastructure since the highway system was established, at an outside ceremony at the White House with industry leaders, local officials and policymakers in attendance.
The ATM Coalition Consistently Emphasized These Objectives:
- Improving mobility by maintaining the current system and investing in new roads, bridges and public transit in urban, suburban and rural areas to ensure access for freight and people to all communities.
- Recognizing decades of underinvestment, we advocate the continuance of a traditional focus on all aspects of surface transportation, including highways, transit and bridges, while also embracing the importance of America building next-generation infrastructure.
- Making sure legislation promotes innovation and improvements to enhance evolutionary practices and project efficiency.
- Providing a transitional arc — between today and the future — that will integrate new technology, promote workforce development, address changing climate conditions, and support measures that advance the building of resilient infrastructure.
ATM engaged constituent audiences on multiple levels and platforms, including: getting radio interviews on stations throughout the U.S., utilizing social media and paid advertising on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, creating regional pieces, discussing key projects, distributing videos and podcasts, encouraging grassroots involvement, sending out email alerts, and shaping a narrative to bolster shared storytelling and earned media. It also generated a petition to lawmakers.
** Some ATM Background Information and Data That Was Provided to Spur Passage of the Legislation **
2021 will provide new possibilities and tests for our nation. The Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) Coalition is asking federal leaders, Congress and the Biden Administration to deliver on meaningful long-term infrastructure investment. Currently, funding for America’s surface transportation is being provided because of a one-year extension of the FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act that happened in September 2020.
Communities across the country understand the need for investing more in America’s national and interdependent transportation system. Concerns grow as highways back up, public transit faces underfunding, and bridges deteriorate.
Ameliorating our nation’s persisting surface-transportation problems intersect with the significance of jumpstarting our economy, addressing the impacts of a global pandemic, and keeping America’s supply chain moving. User fees, rural and urban capacity, maintenance backlogs, and the roles of resilient infrastructure, technology and a re-energized workforce must all be addressed.
The Fiscal Year 2021 Appropriations provides $75.4 billion in discretionary funding for the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will receive $49 billion and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will receive $13 billion. In COVID-recovery funding, $10 billion was allocated to state departments of transportation (DOTs) and $14 billion to transit agencies.
While the recently passed Omnibus spending and COVID-relief legislation provide a funding building block for modernizing America’s transportation infrastructure, much more needs to be done. The ATM asks you to consider these important facts:
- When the National Highway System was devised in the 1950s, the nation’s population was almost half of what it is today and capacity needs have grown substantially. An INRIX 2019 Global Traffic Scorecard reported that drivers in the United States lost more than $88 billion because of traffic congestion in 2019, and the average cost for each driver was $1,377.
- Because e-commerce has dramatically increased in our country, markets, business and the workforce need our transportation network to move seamlessly and efficiently. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) recently reported that freight volumes are expected to grow 36 percent between 2020 and 2031.
- Crucial impacts on public transit provide a wake-up call. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has pointed to a current backlog of $176 billion for transit investments and that figure is expected to increase. Additionally, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine underscored in its “COVID-19 Trends Impacting the Future of Transportation Planning and Research” that effects of the pandemic on public transportation emphasizes equity issues regarding options for all Americans, including the economically disadvantaged.
- The federal fuel tax, which provides revenue for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) accounts, has not been raised since 1993. During this time period, its purchasing power has decreased by 44 percent.
- Based on Congressional Budget Office (CBO) numbers released in September 2020 regarding the 10-year cash flow forecast for the HTF, the projected end-of-2030 extra funding needed is still $193 billion, according to the Eno Center for Transportation.
- In the last World Economic Forum (WEF) ranking, America’s infrastructure dropped from ninth to 13th.
- The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), in its just-released America’s Infrastructure Report Card 2021, shows a funding gap of $1.2 trillion for surface transportation. That number is for cumulative investment needs by system based on current trends, extended to 2029.
The ATM Coalition works continually to reinforce the message that a loss of assured revenue has led to a growing gap in transportation investment and a deteriorating system. Additionally, The State of Transportation today in our nation requires that the local, state and federal components be understood and a range of solutions be explored.
The ATM’s website, fasterbettersafer.org, is a valuable resource that provides background, real stories about what is happening nationally, current information, and news. Content is also shared through multiple digital platforms to help focus on why transportation infrastructure and sound funding are critically important to our country and its citizens and businesses.