If I’ve learned one thing from all the meetings about transportation I’ve covered, it’s this: There is no progress without a solution on funding.
Every conversation about infrastructure turns on the question of how to pay for it. As the power of the gas tax declines, can it be restored or replaced? Does the political will exist?
Friday’s post-election debrief at the Bipartisan Policy Center was no exception. Judging by the first half of the forum, you’d think that the entire transportation program hangs in the balance of that one open question. And it might.
So let’s start with that:
Will the 113th Congress solve the funding crisis?
Joshua Schank of the Eno Center for Transportation opened the session by saying it’s easy to be optimistic about the future when the recent past has been so dismal. All participants agreed that U.S. DOT needs to focus on finding a sustainable funding source for transportation. Last year, the House proposed a 33 percent cut to keep spending in line with transportation revenues; Pete Ruane, president and CEO of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, said the potential cut could be as high as 57 percent in 2014 if Congress doesn’t create new revenue sources.