We Must Find a Way to Pay for Transportation Infrastructure

U.S. transportation infrastructure is in bad shape, and logistics professionals are left wondering how much longer it can support the needs of the American supply chain. Government officials have spent years kicking the can down the road, but now the road is crumbling away.

American infrastructure scored a D+ on the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2017 Report Card. The nation’s deteriorating infrastructure will result in more than $7 trillion in lost business sales and nearly $4 trillion in GDP losses by 2025, according to the ASCE report. The Department of Transportation identified an $836 billion backlog in infrastructure projects in a report released in 2017. That amount doesn’t include any new projects or maintenance needs that will arise moving forward.

 

Spend Money to Make Money

There’s an old saying: You have to spend money to make money. This is also true for our nation’s transportation infrastructure. The pending losses predicted by the ASCE can only be avoided by spending the money we’ve been refusing to spend for the last few decades.

President Trump’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan would be great—in theory. That amount of funding would cover the backlog of projects reported by the DOT and leave enough left over for new initiatives. However, as the bill stands now, the federal government would only fund $200 billion of that $1.5 trillion amount, leaving the rest in the laps of state and local governments and/or private investors.

Local and state spending is fine for local and state projects, but our nation’s economy relies on a functioning interstate transportation network to move people and cargo between destinations. With trillions of dollars in lost business revenue and the health of our GDP at stake, it’s important that the federal government take a leadership role in funding projects that impact the health of the national economy.

WSI joins with the American Trucking Associations and other stakeholders that support additional funding for infrastructure projects. While President Donald Trump endorsed the idea of a 25-cent gas tax hike, the plan died in Congress. Additional sources of user derived funding such as a higher fuel taxes must be revisited before the country’s infrastructure issues can be addressed. Without a new source of revenue, the roads, bridges, ports, and other infrastructure our industry needs to operate will continue to deteriorate.

 

Failure to Act

While it seemed for a while that President Trump’s plan might see some bipartisan support and long-awaited action on U.S. infrastructure would be taken, the infrastructure bill has since been set aside. Congress has told the media they have too much to do and won’t get to the bill until after the 2018 mid-term elections. In addition, the author of the infrastructure plan, DJ Gribbin, left the White House staff in April 2018, suggesting that little action will be seen on this issue from the executive branch either.

As a nation, we can no longer afford to let political games and rivalries stall action on this important issue. Infrastructure has long been used as a bargaining chip in partisan politics, but there’s not any time left for business as usual. It’s up to politicians at all ends of the spectrum to set aside their differences and find a way to fund our nation’s transportation infrastructure needs. The health of our economy depends on it.

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