Two state report cards releases, legislation passed to raise Iowa’s state gas tax, and promising discussions on federal transportation funding, give us reasons to be optimistic about the future of our nation’s infrastructure.
After a week-long recess, House Republicans Reid Ribble of Wisconsin, Tom Reed (NY) and Democrats Dan Lipinski (Ill.) and Bill Pascrell Jr. (NJ) sent a bipartisan letter that included signatures from 284 representatives to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) regarding their mutual support for a long-term, sustainable transportation funding solution. Though an exact funding solution has not yet been agreed upon, it is encouraging to see growing bipartisan support to #FixTheTrustFund.
Aside from individual state’s steps toward addressing infrastructure needs and funding, there has been more dialogue at the federal level calling for a long-term, sustainable funding solution. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx spoke to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) on Wednesday regarding the need for Congress to pass a long-term bill that meets the needs of a “growing 21st century America,” saying that “there is a moment that is shaping up here for something good can happen.”
Iowa lawmakers already took swift action to improve the transportation grades by raising their gas tax by 10 cents per gallon for the first time since 1989. The gas tax increase, which goes into effect Sunday, March 1, will provide an additional $215 million annually for Iowa’s network of bridges and roads that are in need of repair. Iowa also released their state infrastructure report card, which gave them an overall grade of C-, with solid waste being the highest ranked and levees and electrical energy ranking the lower. Though Iowa has a lot of work to do still, their GPA reveals great progress.
Utah also released their state report card this week, giving them an overall GPA of C-, with roads and bridges being in the best shape and levees and canals being in the worst shape. The Utah Transportation Coalition has rallied for the legislature to boost transportation funding through a gas tax to anticipate maintenance needs for the growing population.
These state initiatives and federal actions signal a shift in the tide to restore our nation’s infrastructure. It is more critical than ever before that Congress work together to pass legislation to provide a sustainable, long-term funding solution to #FixTheTrustFund.