Special Report: Funding
20 September 2014 Better Roads
an additional $87 billion to address the nation's backlog of
deficient bridges and aging transit systems;
Create millions of new jobs to ensure America's future
Increase safety across all modes of surface transportation,
including increasing the civil penalties the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) can levy against auto-
makers who fail to act quickly on vehicle recalls;
Provide certainty to state and local governments that must
engage in long-term planning;
Reduce project approval and permitting timelines while
delivering better outcomes for communities and the environ-
Bolster efficient and reliable freight networks to support
trade and economic growth; and
Create incentives to better align planning and investment
decisions to co
"Failing to act before the Highway Trust Fund runs out
is unacceptable – and unaffordable," Foxx said in a written
statement. "This proposal offers the kind of job creation and
certainty that the American people want and deserve."
The bill would never pass Congress.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimous-
ly approved a six-year surface transportation reauthorization
bill. Dubbed the MAP-21 Reauthorization Act (betterroads.com/
senate-epw-releases-map-21-reauthorization-act), the six-year bill
planned to reauthorize surface transportation projects through
fiscal year 2020 and was indexed for inflation.
Under the bill's provisions, the core highway program
would get a nearly $4 billion boost, from $38.44 billion in
2015 to $42.59 billion in 2020.
There were not enough supporters of the bill to ever pass
Congress. Some people, like Transportation Secretary Anthony
Foxx, didn't think the bill was large enough.
"I just spent the better part of a week going to eight states,
12 cities large and small," Foxx said, referring to his April bus
tour. "And I have to tell you that America has been waiting on
a bigger solution."
With the current Highway Trust Fund quickly running dry,
people started to scramble for a solution. One idea was to
highway-trust-fund-solution-plan-would-remove-gas-tax) repeal the
federal gas tax in favor of other funding options like taxing oil
barrels and indexing the diesel tax to inflation and fleet fuel
Another plan was to cut some services offered by the U.S.
Postal Service and use the savings over 10 years to make up
for the fuel tax shortfall.
Both proposals were dismissed.
"We've got to get past the gimmicks in transportation and
really get serious about trying to get a long-term strategy
done," Foxx said.
With hopes of a long-term deal, the Senate decided to delay
voting on a proposed $9 billion patch (betterroads.com/wyden-
offers-short-term-patch-for-transportation-funding) that would have
provided funding through December. The month of June saw
other proposals as well, most of which caused for a gas tax
increase. None of them were seriously considered.
July marks the month when Congress finally started to seri-
ously look for a solution. After all, several states were found
to be in dire need of highway funding (betterroads.com/10-states-
in-dire-need-of-highway-trust-fund). With no long-term deal in
sight, the House and the Senate focused on finding a short-
In mid-July, the House passed a $10.8 billion plan (better-
roads.com/house-approves-11-billion-trust-fund-patch) to pay for the
federal government's share of road and bridge repairs through
May. On July 30th the Senate would reject the House's bill
and respond with of its own. The Senate reduced the bill from
$10.8 billion to $8.1 billion and sent it back to the House.
With Congress' summer recess beginning on August 1st
it was important for an agreement to be in place as soon as
The next day, on July 31st, the House voted down the Sen-
ate's revised bill and sent back its original $10.8 billion bill
Just hours after the House turned down the Senate's $8.1
billion bill, Congress passed the $10.8 billion bill and sent it
to be signed by President Barack Obama. The bill should allow
continued funding for road, highway and bridge construction
through May 2015.