With the Highway Trust Fund expected to run out this September, Congress has stepped up its efforts to pass laws establishing a new national infrastructure funding program.
Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx is currently traveling the country on a campaign to promote awareness about the dire need of a new federal infrastructure funding program. If Congress fails to do anything about the declining Highway Trust Fund, up to 700,000 Americans who work in bridge-building, transit maintenance, and road work will lose their jobs.
Further, a lack in funding for infrastructure maintenance poses a serious safety concern for the trucking industry. With American freight haulers leading the American transportation industry, it would be a foolish decision for Congress to ignore the need for infrastructure improvements. As many people already know, much of the national system of highways, bridges, and roads are falling apart to due to their age and lack of maintenance. If the problems go unresolved, many issues are bound to surface.
Fortunately, the Senate Environment and Public Works committee released the policy portion of a six-year surface transportation re-authorization on Monday, outlining the federal plan to improve national infrastructure. The plan essentially extends the MAP-21 policy, maintaining the same spending levels for highways and transit while allowing for increases due to inflation. This means that federal spending towards highway programs would grow from $38.4 billion in 2015 to $42.6 billion in 2020.
The policy also includes some adjustments to the federal freight program that could mean a brighter future for American freight carriers. The changes are designed to expand flexibility for rural and urban areas when it comes to improving infrastructure. Additionally, the spending for the freight program would rapidly grow from $400 million in 2015 to $2 billion by 2020.
Be sure to pay attention to upcoming activity in Washington as Congress works towards passing new infrastructure legislation.