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Gas Taxes, Road Repair And The U.S. Infrastructure Crisis

The nation’s Highway trust fund is running out of money. Congress can’t agree on a solution. How do we keep America’s roads and bridges up and running?

This photo taken April 14, 2014 shows one section of the $500 million I-75 Phase II modernization project which is under way in Dayton, Ohio. On the road in a tour bus this week, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is urging Congress to quickly approve legislation to pay for highway and transit programs amid warnings that the U.S. government’s Highway Trust Fund is nearly broke. (AP)

This photo taken April 14, 2014 shows one section of the $500 million I-75 Phase II modernization project which is under way in Dayton, Ohio. On the road in a tour bus this week, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is urging Congress to quickly approve legislation to pay for highway and transit programs amid warnings that the U.S. government’s Highway Trust Fund is nearly broke. (AP)

The World Cup has a lot of people looking at Brazil’s overwhelmed infrastructure with dismay.  Check out the 214-mile traffic jam around Sao Paolo.  But then look home, to the USA.  Pothole-palooza.  Sixty-three thousand bridges in need of significant repair.  Delaware, with its leaning interstate bridge tangling up I-95.  Seattle, with its I-5 span in the river.  This summer, the US federal fund supporting road and bridge repair is going broke.  Congress can’t agree – surprise, surprise – on how to replenish it.  This hour On Point:  road and bridge infrastructure in the USA in trouble.  Who will pay to rebuild?

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Robert Puentes, senior fellow and director of the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program’s Infrastructure Initiative. (@rpuentes)

Emily Goff, policy analyst on transportation and infrastructure at the Heritage Foundation. (@emilyjgoff)

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), member of the US House of Representatives for Oregon’s fourth district. (@RepPeterDeFazio)

Michael Lewis, director of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.

From Tom’s Reading List

MSNBC: Highway Trust Fund at risk due to congressional gridlock — “Unless Congress acts, the federal Highway Trust Fund will run out of money by the end of September, which risks stopping or slowing infrastructure projects across the country and keeping new ones from getting off the ground. And that means more frustration, wasted gas, and potential accidents for the nation’s drivers.”

The Oregonian: Rep. Peter DeFazio: Replace federal gas tax with per-barrel tax on oil companies — “Transportation funding has become a major battleground in Congress as the federal highway fund is running out of money.  The federal gas tax hasn’t been raised since 1993 and officials warn that the federal government will soon stop helping fund new projects unless additional money is found.’”

POLITICO: House GOP debuts housing and transportation bill – “Total resources in the transportation and housing bill add up to more than $105 billion, when highway and transit trust funds are counted. But most of the action is focused on a smaller universe of about $52 billion for discretionary grant programs and the daily operations of the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. The estimated $17.1 billion appropriation for DOT is about $727.3 million less than was enacted January, and HUD’s $40.3 billion budget reflects a $769 million cut of its own compared to current appropriations.”

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