Representatives from NPCA and 15 other trade associations spent April 30 on Capitol Hill, urging members of Congress to fix the Highway Trust fund, pass the Water Resources Development Act, save tax dollars through rebuilding with resilient construction and maximize the value of infrastructure investment. It was all part of the second annual Cement and Concrete Day on the Hill, sponsored by the Portland Cement Association.
Bruce Hottle, former NPCA chairman of the Board, Ty Gable, NPCA president and Bob Whitmore, vice president of Communication and Public Affairs, attended the event and met with staff from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chaired by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA).
The 16 trade associations made between 50 and 60 visits to members of Congress during Cement and Concrete Day on the Hill, carrying a unified message on the key topics of maintaining highways, rebuilding infrastructure, protecting our water resources and rebuilding in a more resilient way after natural disasters.
“Those are issues that are important not only to concrete manufacturers, but to anybody who drives on our roads, drinks water and wants to make the best use of tax dollars through wise investments in infrastructure – in other words, all Americans,” Gable said.
We will examine each of the four key issues over the coming weeks on the NPCA Blog, starting with the impending insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund.
Highway Trust Fund
The nation’s transportation infrastructure is deteriorating rapidly. The Highway Trust Fund, created by Congress in 1956 to build and maintain the nation’s investment in highways and mass transit, has fallen short of maintaining our infrastructure in the last two decades. The federal tax of 18.3 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon of diesel fuel does not cover the cost of highway repair and new construction required to maintain the system. The fund has had solvency issues throughout its history, but the current per-gallon tax has not been increased since 1992, and since that time cars and trucks have become much more fuel efficient, further eroding the revenue in the fund. In recent years, Congress has transferred funds from general revenues to maintain the solvency of the fund and keep highway work online.
According to various sources and a report from the bipartisan pro-highway coalition Transportation for America, states and local governments will lose $46.8 billion in Highway Trust Fund dollars in 2015 if no action is taken. That’s a lot of precast and prestressed concrete that will not be needed, and a lot of construction jobs that could be lost.
NPCA supports a bipartisan solution that will provide short-term solvency and long-term viability for the Highway Trust Fund. It is imperative to find a solution before the trust fund runs out of money later this summer.