Message to Congress Increase Spending on Roads

by TJ on February 26, 2011

In this post Used Semi Trailers will focus on the recent “listening session” in Washington D.C.

The United States spends 2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on its road infrastructure. This was the message sent to Congress on February 19th at a “listening session” staged in Washington D.C. The message is underlined by the levels of spending by governments overseas on their own road networks – the European Union spends 5% of GDP on its roads, whereas America’s emerging global competitor, China, spends a massive 9%.

For all the talk of putting more cargo onto the railways or increasing use of intermodal transportation systems, the bulk of cargoes hauled across the US are carried by trucks. A major reason for logistical inefficiencies in the US today are tied up in the poor state of the road infrastructure. The United States has delayed and ignored funding requirements for the state of our roads, however with freight levels set to double by 2025, we can expect more and not less road use by heavy vehicles.

Road infrastructure is such a basic and fundamental requirement for the health of the country in every aspect of its life, that we have no choice but to address the parlous state of our roads. Congestion is a huge problem on our roads, and this is exceptionally costly to the economy and the enjoyment of all road users (car drivers as well as truckers). It is estimated that road traffic congestion is responsible for the loss of 4 billion man hours and 5 billion gallons of gas each year. These enormous numbers will only increase the longer we delay putting our roads into proper order.

The issue is how to raise the huge sums of money involved to properly fund road infrastructure development.

One proposal has been through the road fuel tax. At the moment, the federal gas tax is responsible for 18.4 cents on each gallon (for diesel it is 24.4 cents). In both cases, the tax rate was set way back in 1993 and has not kept pace with developments, nor the need to invest in our road networks. The proposals call for an increase in these rates, though some believe the tax levels could rise as high as 31 cents for a gallon of gas and 42 cents for diesel. This would generate an additional $25 billion annually for investment in the road networks, especially on the roads and bridges which are heavily utilized by the trucking industry, however the question arises – is $25 billion anywhere near enough?

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