ATA: Infrastructure financing plans must be specific

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Updated Sep 9, 2011

Transportation Infrastructure

As President Obama on Thursday, Sept. 8, outlined his plans to create jobs in a stagnant economy, the American Trucking Associations said the country needs concrete proposals about improving the nation’s transportation infrastructure through clearly identified sources of revenue and not vague commitments.

“For months all we’ve heard from the president, as well as members of Congress, is ambiguous calls for ‘more infrastructure spending,’ without clearly and simply explaining how much is ‘more’ and where those funds are to come from,” said Bill Graves, president and chief executive officer. “This country needs Congress to make a decision on how to pay for our roads and bridges, and by simply expressing support for the idea of infrastructure without laying out details, the president and Congress are abdicating their responsibilities. Americans deserve to be given details about how much money he wants to spend and what he wants to spend it on, not more platitudes about the importance of infrastructure spending.”

While Obama said his $447 billion jobs plan would include investments in road and highway construction, Graves re-emphasized the need to avoid infrastructure banks or public-private partnerships at the expense of stable and reliable sources of funding. “Study after study, including one by the Department of Transportation’s own inspector general, has shown that private-sector solutions to our infrastructure act as an additional tax on Americans with no benefits to users,” Graves says. “Any private sector entity investing in infrastructure is going to be looking for a return on its investment, and payments to the private sector will take money out of travelers’ pockets and put it into portfolios rather than pavement.”

Graves said roads and bridges have been funded through the federal fuel tax for nearly 60 years. “We strongly believe that policymakers should be honest about that tax’s ability to continue to fund our investment and increase it to the necessary levels,” he said.