Where’s our transportation strategy?

We all know the U.S. government has a serious problem with managing its debt, but almost everyone and especially truckers can agree on one thing: highways are worth paying for, even if it means paying more.

That’s why it is hard to fathom why almost 1,000 days have lapsed since the United States Congress passed an actual transportation and infrastructure bill. It was only earlier this month that 47 members of congress met to begin discussing what the next highway and transit bill would look like.

We are entering a crisis stage for the future of transportationg funding in this country.

The House and Senate have until June 30 to try and pass a multi-year bill that is fully funded. The reality, of course, is they will at best pass a skeletal bill that maintains the current level of federal investment in highways and transit through 2013.

Another looming deadline is Sept. 30. If congress doesn’t pass a transportation bill by then, the federal highway trust will automatically be cut by 60 percent. Federal trust fund accounts for 50 percent of current highway spending. The other 50 percent, which states control, is in jeapordy as well since many have raided their transportation trust funds to solve budget problems.

Even if congress passes a temporary “highways and transit” bill through 2013, the federal trust fund is still set to be reduced by 20 percent and will not return to its current 2012 level until after 2022.

“We have no national strategy for transportation,” said Janet Kavinoky, the executive director of transportation and infrastructure for U.S. Chamber of Commerce. To compete with the rest of the world, “we are going to have strategy to invest in infrastructure.”

Kavinoky spoke earlier this month at the Transplace Shipper Symposium. She recommended that companies and individuals let their elected officials know that they support increased spending for infrastructure and new sources of revenue to support it.

“Our challenge is to help them do something.”