National ATA proposes industry supported fund for infrastructure
The American Trucking Associations has called on policymakers to endorse its Build America Fund – a plan to fund the modernization of the nation’s deteriorating network of roads and bridges.
The trucking industry employs 7.4 million men and women across the country and is the top employer in 29 states. In addition to moving more than 70 percent of the economy’s freight tonnage, it plays an essential role in maintaining America’s National Highway System through its support to the Highway Trust Fund.
National ATA’s Build America Fund would be supported with a federal fuel user fee built into the wholesale price of transportation fuels collected at the terminal rack, phased in at a nickel per year over four years. The fee would be indexed to both inflation and improvements in fuel efficiency, with a five percent annual cap.
“Tax reform has reignited the American economy, and it is paramount that this new economic growth is supported by a strong national infrastructure. A 21st century transportation network cannot be sustained with financial tricks and finance schemes – it requires real and substantial investment,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “The Build America Fund is the most efficient – and conservative – way to generate infrastructure investment and adheres to the bedrock principal that users only pay for what they use.”
ATA estimates the Build America Fund would generate $340 billion in new revenue over the first ten years. Although trucks account for 14 percent of vehicle miles traveled on our roads, the trucking industry currently covers approximately 45 percent of the Highway Trust Fund through the commercial truck diesel and gas tax and other trucking-specific excise taxes.
“The trucking industry is putting our money where our foot is. Trucking already pays half the nation’s highway funding tab, and we are ready to pay more,” said Spear. “Through the Build America Fund, the trucking industry would invest upwards of an additional $112 billion into our nation’s roads and bridges over the next decade. Solving a challenge of this size requires big and bold solutions, and we call on Washington to step up with us.”
The average passenger vehicle would pay approximately $100 over the course of a year into the Build America Fund – an investment for which motorists will see a substantially larger return in saved time, fuel and repair expenses.
“The cost of doing nothing is far greater,” said Spear. “The typical motorist is losing $1,500 each year in wasted gas and vehicle repairs because of our crumbling infrastructure, which is far greater than what they would pay into the Build America Fund.
“So-called ‘creative financing’ tools are a road to nowhere, as study after study shows the shortfalls of tolling and the unintended consequences that tolls impose on motorists and surrounding communities,” he said. “There is nothing ‘conservative’ about tolling.”
Studies by the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences reveal that, even when using modern technology, 12 percent of tolling revenue is wasted to administrative, collection and enforcement costs. By way of comparison, 99 percent of revenue collected through a fuel user fee is allocated to its intended purpose of maintaining infrastructure.
A June 2017 national survey found that 57 percent of Americans agreed that a 20-cent per-gallon federal fuel user fee is the preferable way to fund the nation’s needed four trillion dollars of road, bridge and highway improvements. Comparatively, only 23 percent prefer placing new tolls on interstate highways, and eight percent favor a per mile fee charged to motorists. Furthermore, 67 percent of Americans support the Build America Fund when they learn that it would result in the government borrowing less money and reducing the debt burden on future generations.
“We support President Trump’s vision to ‘go big or go home’ on infrastructure. To build America, we must invest in America,” said Spear. “It is why President Trump has repeatedly said he wants to launch a serious infrastructure investment plan, and we call on Washington to join us in doing just that.”