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Groups oppose diverting highway funds

Jill Dunn | April 11, 2011

As Congress prepares its next long-term transportation funding bill, trucking groups have testified before a House subcommittee against using fuel taxes to fund non-highway projects.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the American Trucking Associations were among 40 witnesses who appeared before the House Highways and Transit subcommittee March 29-30.

Congress should not follow a White House proposal to shift Highway Trust Fund dollars to non-highway transportation projects, OOIDA member Kristopher Kane testified. The next highway authorization bill should fund non-highway projects such as transit from the General Fund instead of using fuel taxes, said ATA Chairwoman Barbara Windsor.

Kane said private entities should not be allowed to invest in existing highways and then increase or add tolls. But OOIDA supports allowing states public-private partnerships to add new rest areas and expand services at existing rest areas. The next six-year funding bill should have dedicated funding to expand truck parking, OOIDA said.

Kane and Windsor said Congress should continue the prohibition on tolls on currently untolled interstates.

Windsor, president and CEO of Hahn Transportation, testified truckers would accept a fuel tax increase to help fund infrastructure. Congress should allow states greater flexibility to change truck size and weight regulations and address bottlenecks on heavily traveled freight corridors, she said.

NATSO President Lisa Mullings asked Congress to oppose amending or repealing federal law that prohibits commercial development on interstate right-of-ways. Mullings, who is also CEO of the truck stop trade association, testified it would signify government intrusion into the private sector and jeopardize related businesses and jobs.

Steve Dowling, president of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, testified that decreased funding levels for commercial motor vehicle safety programs would weaken state enforcement efforts. Also, states should have more flexibility to allow focus of necessary resources on what are the most serious safety issues, he said.

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