Infrastructure on Highway Trust Fund

By Xyla Joelle L. Frnandez

Dec 08, 2016 05:07 AM EST

Report strongly advocates for greater funding of transportation infrastructure investments what is now covered by Highway Trust Fund allocations. It also stresses the value of projects designed to support multiple transportation modes. 

The report aims to be a "blueprint for state DOTs, Congress and the new [Trump] administration to address the critical freight infrastructure needs of our nation," said AASHTO President and MaineDOT Commissioner David Bernhardt.

Kurt Nagle, AAPA president and CEO, said the report gives a "comprehensive national overview of where states are collectively in developing state freight plans, one year after the FAST Act was passed." 

The two associations contend that while states are making progress, improvements to critical freight infrastructure have not kept pace with current and future demands. The report includes several recommendations to leverage private-sector investment and "move lawmakers to provide additional and ongoing funding resources outside of the Highway Trust Fund." 

The associations also noted that of the 50 state departments of transportation and the District of Columbia's, 12 have direct relationships with one or more ports in their state. What's more, 38 states are connected by navigable waterways and/or marine highway routes, "which creates opportunities and obvious synergies for close DOT/port relationships."To help states plan sustainable investments in a national freight network, AAPA and AASHTO recommend in the report that these steps be taken:

  • Have the U.S. Department of Transportation continue providing Highway Trust Fund allocations to states for highway freight projects through the National Highway Freight program.
  • Have the USDOT coordinate its Build America Bureau and freight advisory committees with state freight plans to better leverage private-sector investment. 
  • Request that Congress provide additional and ongoing funding resources outside of the HTF for the overall multimodal freight network in such a way it can supplement highway formula dollars and fund discretionary grant programs. 
  • Move the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) from discretionary to mandatory spending to enable all the revenues from HMT collections to be used for maintenance of deep-draft navigation channels and providing more equity.

During a conference call with reporters, AASHTO Executive Director Bud Wright pointed out that while the FAST Act authorizes $11 billion to be spent on freight infrastructure over a five-year span, "a lot more will be needed just for the over 6,200 freight projects targeted by states. "That's why we're urging lawmakers to provide additional and ongoing resources outside of the Highway Trust Fund to fund freight programs."

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