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There are nearly 4 million miles of road throughout the United States that need to be maintained and developed to transport the goods to keep this nation running. On February 2, 2015, President Obama proposed a plan for $478 billion to go towards fixing the nation’s declining infrastructure. The breakdown of the plan suggests $317 billion would fund roads and bridges, $143 billion would endow federal transit projects, and $18 billion would cover freight improvements. This proposal would be executed over the next six years.
To pay for this $478 billion project, the current federal fuel tax of 18.4 cents per gallon has been suggested to increase. Additionally, money could be generated by a one-time tax holiday for companies with overseas investments. Taxing 14% on earnings brought into the U.S. would create an additional $238 billion in revenue.
The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Highway Trust Fund (HTF) is scheduled to run out of money in May of 2015, and the infrastructure improvement plan would support the continuation of this road project financing institution. Spending for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) would also triple (from $11 billion to $31 billion), ensuring the safety of vehicles on the road. This department is in charge of recalling dangerous vehicles, and the proposed increase in funds would go towards significantly boosting this office’s personnel. The White House states, "The federal government plays a vital role in infrastructure investment, and the nation’s roads, bridges, and other surface transportation infrastructure systems are badly in need of upgrades and repairs."
This plan prioritizes the transportation industry and its long-term funding, which hopefully circumvents problems down the road. Congestion is included in the scope of this matter. The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) reported that $9.2 billion is the estimated cost of congestion on the trucking industry. Ideally, the funds allocated towards infrastructure improvement will contribute to decreasing traffic and enhancing flow.
The previous surface transportation authorization, SAFETEAU-LU expired in 2009. Three years and ten extensions later, a congressional conference committee presented Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21; H.R.4348), which was passed into law July 6, 2012. Map-21 was the final product of negotiations for a highway reauthorization of the nation's surface transportation programs through fiscal year 2014.
MAP-21 consolidated two-thirds of the highway programs that existed under SAFETEA-LU, accelerated the project delivery process, and created performance measures to ensure states are using their federal dollars to improve road conditions, reduce congestion, increase system reliability, and improve freight movement. Additionally, the National Freight Strategic Plan established in the bill provided incentives for states to fund projects that will improve freight movement.
The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Enhancement Act of 2012, within MAP-21, included registration requirements, provisions to better identify motor carriers that mask prior noncompliance and adverse safety history, an electronic logging device mandate to record hours-of-service, and the establishment of a national drug and alcohol clearinghouse.
MAP-21 called on DOT to conduct studies on the hours-of-service 34-hour restart provision, the effects of truck size and weight on highway safety and infrastructure, and the process of streamlining acquiring a a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) by military veterans who operated heavy trucks while serving in the armed forces. Furthermore, DOT was required to establish standards for training hazardous materials inspectors and investigators, and they conducted a new pilot program to improve and increase research and data collection on hazardous materials.
Obama’s $478 Billion Infrastructure Plan