America’s roads, bridges and mass transit are built and maintained by the Transportation Department’s U. S. Highway Trust Fund. You will recall that The U. S. Highway Trust Fund is a money reserve reportedly held in 3 accounts: the Highway Account for road construction; the Mass Transit Account for (you guessed it) mass transit; the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund for (right again) dealing with leaking underground storage tanks.
Established in the mid1950’s, the Fund helps support hundreds of thousands of jobs and receives money from taxes: federal fuel taxes, truck tire taxes, taxes on truck and trailer sales and taxes on the use of heavy vehicles. The Fund has endured solvency problems since at least 2008, requiring special Congressional measures to keep the Fund financially competent.
The Fund’s authorization is set to expire on May 31, 2015. If Congress fails to authorize the Fund, it can pay its bills only through mid-summer. However, as of April 28, 2015, the Senate Finance Committee has failed to hold a bipartisan meeting or a Committee meeting on the subject. Why are they waiting? Good question. Some senators wrote to Finance Committee Chairman, Orrin Hatch, to act “swiftly.” Their letter can be accessed here: U.S. Senate Finance Letter
Meanwhile, with fiscal problems of their own, 4 states have already stopped working on new infrastructure projects. They question the Fund’s ability to pay them.
Travel on our roads, bridges and mass transit reveals that America’s infrastructure requires maintenance at best and extensive repairs/replacement at worst. Here’s hoping the Finance Committee “shotguns a Red Bull” or does whatever else is necessary to authorize the Highway Trust Fund.
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