DOT’s Foxx: As roads, infrastructure continue to worsen, Congress must act

| January 16, 2014
DOT-Cash-Flow-Summary-12-27-13
The Highway Trust Fund is expected to hit a shortfall by the end of the current fiscal year.

The U.S. needs to stand up and face a looming “infrastructure deficit” by passing a long-term highway funding bill, Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx told an audience at the Transportation Research Board’s Annual Meeting in Washington Jan. 15. 

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Not only would the U.S. be able to save money long-term by tackling needed infrastructure problems now, Foxx said, it would be able to begin battling the ever-growing problem of under-funded, under-cared-for roads: One third of all roads in the U.S., he said in his speech, are in poor or mediocre condition. If the U.S. waits, he said, repairing roads will only become more expensive.

Also, he said more than 100,000 bridges are more than 60 years old, he said, and Americans combined spend 600,000 years stuck in traffic annually. 

“What’s true in business is true for infrastructure: Time is money. … And we’re kicking those higher costs to our kids and our grandkids,” Foxx said.

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As the expiration of the current highway funding law, MAP-21, draws nearer (Oct. 1) — as does emptying of the Highway Trust Fund, which is expected to hit a shortfall sometime this year — the Department of Transportation will be posting a monthly update on how much remains in the Highway Trust Fund, for starters, he said. 

The DOT also will be touting plans from the White House and from Congress as to how to come up with money to fund infrastructure spending, including President Barack Obama’s funding plan, which called for funding transportation with funds gained from corporate tax reform, along with recent proposals from Congress to raise taxes on motor fuels

Foxx said his department is also putting stock into working efficiently and finding cost-cutting measures to get more infrastructure for less money, like Utah’s use of warm-mix asphalt and the paperwork reduction in the trucking industry. 

“Highway people like highways. Transit people like transit. Rail people like rail. But our transportation system should be greater than the sum of its parts,” he said. “We need a plan that takes our roads and rails and ports – and links them – and remakes the finest system of transportation the world has ever known into its 21st-century incarnation.”

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  • Dave

    RAISE FUEL TAXES AND MORE HIGHWAY TAXES? What an idiot! Maybe tell his boss to quit sending our enemies money. And spend it on our country… Or Congress could put in our demands. FIRST! So we can make money and pay the taxes, we are already overwhelmed with. This shit is getting out of hand.

  • skepticalvoter

    A monumental step forward would be to include a law within the bill restricting ANYONE in the Administrative Branch from funneling funds to Pork Barrel/special interest projects or campaign contributor payback projects. We keep paying taxes for infrastructure and they keep saying they are running out of money so they have to raise the amount of taxes we pay.

  • David S. McQueen

    Oh, goody! More “shovel ready jobs” that need funded! And how well did that work out last time? For the unions, it was a windfall but for the rest of us, nothing.

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  • James Taylor

    This has nothing, in itself, to do with road and fuel taxes, but does have an impact, indirectly. and that is, self-sustaining finance investments, by the Federal, State and local governments, in businesses. From Transportation to agriculture. I know, I know. The government shouldn’t be in competition with the people. It will drive small businesses out of business, and all the other morbid excuses, that I’ve heard voiced over the past forty-five years. Horseshit. forty years ago, that was a feasible, albeit, shortsighted conclusion. It doesn’t hold water these days. For two very fundamental reasons.
    First off, Walmart and other super-conglomerates have already done that. Those still in business and in a specialty niches, or are in a supplier/ partnership; directly,or indirectly, with said conglomerates.
    Secondly, and my data isn’t completely up to date here, a waste majority of business interests are foreign owned or held. Last data I was privy to, was admittedly in 1998. But it was at sixty-three percent foreign investment in major US businesses. I don’t hear many people complaining about that. We’re talking, oilfields, seaports, raw material production facilities, such as mines, smelters and steel manufacturing plants.
    The point is, it’s time the American governments became less dependent on taxes and more productive on all fronts. Foreign policies, domestic priorities, to include our millions of miles of roads, bridges and tunnels. All of which cost money. Think about it for a moment. No one wants to pay more taxes, yet we all demand that our government be less intrusive and at the same time, be more proactive to or, safety, our needs and our demands. That is an unsustainable, un-fulfilling proposition; giving the shear volume of people and municipalities within our borders. And we mustn’t forget US interest and obligations overseas. Not with the current restrictions we suffer under. The US government; be it Federal, State, or local, has got to be more self-sustaining in order to be more viable in the future; or this great country, as we have known it, is surely doomed.
    Look at it this way. All profits that are not used to maintain, or improve these government run businesses, or to pay for employees salaries, health insurances, etc; would go directly into the government’s cauldrons; thus eliminated the need to raise taxes. not only that; it creates new jobs, which will employ, primarily, local personnel, give incentive to businesses to move into areas that have recently been abandoned and help with educational funding of students to help create and maintain a work force to compete and rival the world. Lets face it, we have many jobs going to foreign imported workers, due to the lack of an educationally trained, and qualified workforce. Workers pay taxes, spend in the local economy and help uplift a depressed economical America. Which would go a long ways in bringing up wages for us truckers as well as the rest of the working class. more money for improved safety equipment, procedures and a real overhaul within the FMCSA, to relieve us of the dim-witted morons that are less interested in what really constitutes highway safety, in terms of truckers and the trucking industry.
    Lets face the cold hard facts here, people. The current system, doesn’t work, was flawed at the beginning and very little, to no driver input was taking into consideration.
    It’s not about dollars and cents, but rather common. The sense. The FMCSA regs are shit, the overall US economy is shit[ but showing significant signs of improvement], the trucking financial situation for truckers is shit, the overall safety for truckers is questionable, at the least, and antiquated at best.
    I laid out some proposals for correct actions, in terms of the trucking segment of the enormous entity, that is the US Transportation Industry, back in November 2013. This situation here is a simple fix, in terms of the American infrastructural correcting and financing long term. but you will notice that it also addresses the economy as a whole. It doesn’t solve all problems and does need need some fine tuning, as well as some Congressional assistance. However, if we are ever going to recapture the true essence of what made this country great, we need to start by electing people who are willing to buck the system and do what needs to be done in order to move this country forward and back into the forefront of the World. We don’t need to be looking at China’s heine any longer. I intend to run for public office in a few years, after I’ve had time to put together a local pilot program that can be used as a model for other local, as well as the States and Federal government to follow. But in the meantime, remember this.
    Everybody wants to complain, but few will be willing to step forward with a comprehensive solution to whatever problem, or perceived problem that they are complaining about. Therefore, it would behoove those of you that find yourself in that predicament, to be more proactive at the voting booth, writing to your local/State representatives, keeping in tune with those govern decisions and policies that have an impact on your lives and the lives of your children. One man/woman can not do it alone. I don’t give a good two cent who he/she is. The United States President is considered the most powerful person on the planet; but, without the backing of the Congressional Branch of government, he/she can do ditty squat, of any real sustainable policy implementation. That is how our Constitution is written up; alone with a shit load of congressional amendments, to curtail and prevent any president from exercising Putin type powers.
    I would keep that in mind, next time you decide to go President bashing these dedicated public servants. There are no blueprints or courses that will prepare anyone to be the president of the United States. Vice President is the closest thing there is to it. but how many men are privy to that position prior to become president. you know, there’s a reason these men go into the precidency with high expectations, looking young, viral and full of piss and vinigar; but come out of it, after three and a half years looking twenty to thirty years older. compare the before and after photos of every president that came in after Ronald Reagan. Ole George W Bush had to tolerate the same horse crap this current president is now enduring.
    And yes, I am a very conservative leaning former business owner, who is six months from graduating college. I am neither Republican, Tea Party, Green Party, or Democrat. Just a concerned American citizen, that viewed American for eighteen years, from behind the wheel of an eighteen wheeler. and spent twenty years serving this country as a soldier. First ten, in the active army and the last ten, as a member of the Tennessee Army National Guard, which I am still a member of until 2019. When I left Iraq in 2010, the US was financing and rebuilding the roads, bridges and infrastructures of Iraq, before the big turn-over. Now, don’t you think it’s time we did the same thing here in our own backyard?
    In other words; lets not be a part of the problem; but rather, a helpful cog in the machinery of progression and change.