AASHTO Journal, 21 November 2014
The Associated Equipment Distributors industry trade group in Washington, D.C., is telling Congress that “now is the time” to develop a long-term revenue stream for the Highway Trust Fund, rather than waiting until the federal programs it pays for run out of money next May.
As one of several major policy actions it wants lawmakers to address as part of AED’s “legislative action week” push, the group says “state transportation officials have had difficulty planning and contractors, with no clear sense of what their future business will be, have been reluctant to invest in new equipment.”
For sellers of equipment used in construction, AED said the lack of certainty in federal Highway Trust Fund spending “has slowed recovery in our industry, which was hit as hard as any other during the recession and lost a third of its workforce. Restoring stability to federal transportation programs before the end of the year will help sustain and create millions of jobs in the equipment industry, the construction sector and the broader economy.”
The group also offered members the text of a letter to send their members of Congress. “The federal highway program’s funding issues create enormous uncertainty for our state’s transportation officials, highway contractors, workers and equipment and material suppliers,” it says. “We cannot fix the potholes, build new capacity to decrease congestion and improve our national transportation infrastructure to make America’s economy the strongest in the world if Congress does not do its job.”
It also provided a state-by-state analysis of how transportation affects equipment distributors, and said the federal highway program supports 4,000 direct distributor jobs and $2.4 billion in their equipment sales.
The association urged Congress to consider hiking the federal per-gallon gasoline tax and indexing it to rise with inflation, but said “all options should be on the table.” But it said “there is no excuse for delaying decisive action until well into next year.”