This Week in Infrastructure: The Need for Funding


Several states are responding to the impending reality that this fall the Highway Trust Fund “will have insufficient revenues to meet obligations” unless a sustainable revenue source is found.

Among those voicing concerns is Tennessee. As a precaution, TDOT prepared two 2015 budgets: one with federal funding, budgeting $1.8 billion and another without, budgeting $900 million.

Minnesota also grappled with the transportation funding gap through a hearing that included testimony from ASCE’s own Brian Pallasch, who spoke on the consequences of underinvestment.

Delaware Gov. Markell proposed an increase to the gas tax that would be tied to inflation. Though it was met with criticism from the state legislature, this editorial aptly points out highways don’t pay for themselves.

Idaho’s Transportation Department’s Scott Stokes warned that the state relies heavily on federal funding for its department’s budget. Stokes predicted “At current funding levels [bridges] will have to last 120 years, two to three times their expected life,” given the current funding trajectory.

Michigan is facing a more immediate funding crisis, due to the frequent snowfall. To put it into perspective, snowplows were needed on the southwest part of the state’s roads for 67 straight days, a doubly costly endeavor because money is needed to fund the plowing and to repair the roads afterward.

The Daily Iowan called to raise the state’s gas tax in an editorial, explaining the “tax would generate $230 million annually, money that can be used to substantially upgrade Iowa’s roadways and would close the state’s $215 million annual shortfall in road funds.”

On the federal level, Ohio Reps. Tim Ryan and Dave Joyce, called upon their colleagues to revitalize infrastructure and create jobs in the process. The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing Wednesday to consider the best funding options for the Highway Trust Fund. Sen. Boxer said her goal is to have a “five- or six-year bill.”

This week demonstrates the need for a sustainable funding source is gaining attention. Now the next step is finding a solution and taking action.

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