Truckers Group Urges New Fuel Fee to Deal

With Pending Federal Highway Funding Shortfall

 

December 23, 2017

 

This week the American Trucking Association (ATA) added its voice to the calls for new federal revenue to keep the Highway Trust Fund strong and to avoid a huge funding gap that could force states to cancel or delay critical highway projects.


In testimony before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee the Trucking Association asked Congress to consider establishing a fund capable of generating about $340 billion over 10 years. That would come from a new dedicated 20 cent a gallon motor fuels fee, significantly boosting available funding.  ATA calls the proposal the Build America Fund.

 

The new fee would phase in over four years. Ultimately, the cost to the average driver would be slightly more than $100 annually, said ATA President Chris Spear. Revenue generated by the fee would transfer to the Highway Trust Fund.

 

ATA says the proposal would stabilize the trust fund used in repairing and modernizing commercial highway corridors and help facilitate freight movement. Trucking is expected to double in Texas and increase by 65% nationally over the next 30 years.

 

ATA said it is opposed to tolls along existing interstates, arguing that tolling would hinder safety by shifting a degree of traffic onto side streets and that transferring public highway assets to the private sector through asset-recycling has contributed to increases in toll rates.

 

Transportation policymakers should produce a 10-year plan identifying viable and sustainable sources of funding for infrastructure projects, Spear said. The plan should be produced by a blue-ribbon commission tasked with exploring results from either completed or ongoing pilot programs. They would then recommend further research or the adoption of a sustainable funding approach.

 

The Truckers say that while the new fuels fee would be the most immediate means for improving our nation’s roads and bridges, the association also recognizes that due to improvements in fuel efficiency and the development of new technologies that avoid the need to purchase fossil fuel altogether, the fuel tax is likely to be a diminishing source of revenue for surface transportation improvements over the long term.

 

The trust fund’s authority expires in about three years. Revenue from the federal diesel tax of 24.4 cents per gallon and the 18.4 cents-per-gallon gasoline tax is projected to be insufficient to ensure its solvency. Federal fuel taxes were last raised in 1993.

 

White House officials have said they will lay out an infrastructure funding plan in January aimed at providing agencies with $1 trillion over 10 years. Eighty percent of the funding would originate from the private sector, according to a blueprint the White House unveiled earlier.