Reston, Va. — The following is a statement from Gregory E. DiLoreto, P.E., P.L.S, D.WRE, president of The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), regarding the current government shutdown and the 20th anniversary of the last federal gas tax increase:
“Today marks the 20th anniversary since the federal gas tax was last raised to 18.4 cents per gallon in 1993. With the government shutting its doors today, this is a reminder of the pressing need for bipartisan solutions to America’s largest problems.
“The shutdown of the federal government will have long-lasting negative effects on America’s already outdated infrastructure. With national parks closed, repair and replacement projects will be put on hold while parks lose needed revenue. We have furloughed one-third of the U.S. Department of Transportation employees, hurting our ability to asses, plan, and respond to needed surface transportation issues. This short-sighted shutdown creates economic uncertainty and halts continuing planning, forcing infrastructure projects to use stop-gap measures for long-term needs.
“Regrettably, the shutdown is nothing new. The 20th anniversary of the federal gas tax shows that Congressional inaction has for far too long hurt American families and business. Given the growth and expansion of the U.S. over the last 20 years, one has to wonder the consequences of funding our 2013 infrastructure with 1993 dollars.
“According to the Consumer Price Index, the costs of many household items have nearly doubled over the last 20 years. Some examples of the price differences between 1993 and today include:
- A loaf of bread: 1993: $0.75, 2013: $1.41
- A pound of coffee: 1993: $2.50, 2013: $5.21
- A new car: 1993: $12,750, 2013: $31,252
“Despite these price increases, the federal gas tax has remained stagnant with no increase over that time. Together, taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel raise more than $30 billion per year, or 85 percent of the revenue flowing into the nation’s transportation spending account.
“America’s transportation infrastructure is on a collision course unless Congress takes swift action to approve a long-term revenue solution. The Highway Trust Fund will be bankrupt by 2015 and MAP-21 is set to expire in September 2014. Infrastructure projects are already being put on hold because of the uncertainty of federal funding.
“The American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure gave the nation’s roads a grade of D, and bridges a C+. We found that unless investments are made, the nation’s deteriorating surface transportation will cost the American economy more than 876,000 jobs and suppress the growth of the country’s GDP by $897 billion by 2020.
“Much like the government shutdown, our inability to invest in our nation’s infrastructure costs Americans jobs, hurts businesses, and makes life harder for working families. I urge Congress to make funding of surface transportation a priority, develop a long-term funding solution, and most importantly, end the intransigence that has for over 20 years stalled our nation’s economy.”
Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers represents more than 140,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America’s oldest national engineering society. For more information, visit www.asce.org.