By Christopher Hopkins
Senior Vice President, Aggregates and Mining
The Saint Consulting Group
For a bill that is said to have bi-partisan overwhelming support, why is little or no progress being made on the reauthorization of the SAFETEA-LU bill, which expired in September 2009? Recently Congress passed another temporary extension of the bill providing funding for the nation’s surface transportation infrastructure until September 2011. The real question remains: What is taking so long for a long-term solution?
An answer was given this past week when House Republicans released their fiscal year 2012 budget. The bill calls for a decrease in transportation funding by 31 percent, and no increase in the gas user fee for the Highway Trust Fund, despite the fact that the user fee is the sole source of funding and is estimated to fall significantly short of funding goals. The Republican budget also calls for a halt to diverting transportation funds to alternative programs, which would be good news for construction materials companies.
The American Society of Civil Engineers in its 2009 Infrastructure Report Card gave a ‘D-‘ grade to the overall condition of the country’s roads and a ‘C’ to the condition of the bridges. This coincided with a ‘D’ for the nation’s aviation and transit infrastructure. So, clearly, investment is needed.
An estimated 42,000 jobs are created in the United States with every billion dollars of infrastructure investment. A clear need exists for this job-creating investment and for the infrastructure improvements, but this economic investment is being stagnated by the continued short-term authorizations.
The National Sand, Stone and Gravel Association will be participating in the Transportation Construction Coalition Fly-In on May 24th and 25th in Washington, D.C. NSSGA members and transportation construction industry leaders will be meeting with their congressmen and senators, urging them to pass a long-term SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users) reauthorization. If you can join this effort, contact the NSSGA through its website: www.nssga.org
The NSSGA views House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget with mixed emotions. “We are concerned, however, that the Ryan plan relies solely on the revenues going into the Highway Trust Fund to fund the program going forward, revenues which already have been shown to fall far short of meeting the needs of surface transportation network. Further, the budget plan prohibits any increase in the gas user fee to fill the funding gap.” the association said.
For the full NSSGA statement, click here.
For previous Saint Report posts on this topic, click here.
Chris Hopkins is Senior Vice President, Aggregates and Mining, for The Saint Consulting Group. Email email@example.com, phone 615-656 3794.