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07-06-20 | Legislation

Senate Committee Discusses Highway Trust Fund

Decreases in Traffic Lead to Drop in Fuel Tax Revenue

During a conference with the Environment and Public Works Committee, Delaware Senator, Tom Carper, explained that 20% of United States Highways are in need of repair.

The Environment and Public Works Senate committee had a meeting on July 1 to consider the nature of the Highway Trust Fund. One of the main points of their conversation centered around the decrease in income coming from fuel tax. This drop is directly a result of fewer drivers on the road due to the pandemic. The lack of tax revenue affects each state's department of transportation and limits its ability to continue existing infrastructure projects and start new ones. The call for new legislation that funds highways and other forms of transportation has been well discussed as of late with the imminent expiration of the current surface transportation authorization bill in September.

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At the start of the committee meeting, Wyoming Senator John Barrasso expressed urgency in passing a replacement for the old legislation, "Three months from today, the surface transportation authorization will expire. This cannot be allowed to happen, especially during this pandemic-caused economic downturn."

Barrasso continued by talking about the Highway Trust Fund's poor health, which he believes is close to insolvency. He explained that the fund was initially projected to last through the middle of 2021, but due to the noted drop in fuel tax income, the trust fund will run out much quicker than anticipated.

Delaware Senator Tom Carper was also in attendance at the conference and added to the discussion but explaining the necessity of infrastructure repairs around the country. Carper elucidated, "While some roads simply need repairs or repaving, others need to be rebuilt or completely redesigned. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, approximately 20 percent of our federal-aid highways are in poor condition, as are some 46,000 bridges."

LandscapeArchitect.com has been following the developments of the expected infrastructure bill and the highway transportation reauthorization bill that will likely be included within it. We reported that the House passed the Moving Forward Act on July 2, and we will continue to provide new information as it becomes known.

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