Like literal bridges, not the metaphorical kind politicians always talk about.
Considering how transportation infrastructure is set up in the US, roads and bridges are vital to our everyday livelihood. So vital in fact, that some recognize road construction as “that season that comes after winter.” Yet as Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said last week, the Federal Highway Trust Fund is set to run out of money come August. This would mean that repairing of roads and bridges around the country may be coming to a standstill without congressional action.
The Obama Administration is set to push Congress this week to keep the money flowing through a federal fund for the repairing of bridges and roads. Without congressional action, the Obama Administration warns that bridges and roads will go unrepaired and the construction industry – which has been surprisingly on the upswing – will become stagnant.
Last month the Obama Administration sent a $302 billion transportation plan for approval. One of the cornerstones of the plan was to put $150 billion into transportation programs (like highway repairs, construction contracts, ect.) that would be funded through a raise in gas and business taxes.
Traditionally road and highway repairs have always been funded by the gas tax, yet in the two decades since the gas tax was last raised, construction and repair costs for highways and bridges have increased due to inflation. However at the same time, many Americans have continued to spend less on gas with the proliferation of fuel efficient cars and people just driving less in general. So not surprisingly, this has led to programs like the Federal Highway Trust Fund to be underfunded.
While the Obama Administration hopes Congress will adopt the president’s approach, members of both parties are hesitant to fund such highway projects due to the public backlash of raising gas taxes. Earlier this year, President Obama stated that he was ready to bypass Congress to achieve his agendas in 2014. Yet in this specific instance, highway funding can’t be achieved without congressional approval. Whether Congress will buy into President Obama’s plan for highway infrastructure repair is anyone’s guess.