The U.S. federal government needs to develop a national, 10-year strategy to invest in the nation's transportation system and other forms of infrastructure in order for the U.S. to be competitive in a global economy, the bipartisan Building America's Future Educational Fund (BAF Ed Fund) recommended in its second report.Released Jan. 17, BAF Ed Fund's updated "Falling Apart and Falling Behind" report makes its case for why U.S. infrastructure has fallen from first place in the World Economic Forum's 2005 economic competitiveness ranking to No. 14 today."The size of our federal investment in transportation infrastructure as a share of [gross domestic product] has been dwindling for decades, and most federal funds are dispersed to projects without imposing accountability and performance measures," the report states. "This lack of vision, lack of funding and lack of accountability has left every mode of transportation in the United States — highways and railroads, airports and sea ports — stuck in the last century and ill-equipped for the demands of a churning global economy."As part of its "recommendations for reform," the BAF Ed Fund calls on the federal government to develop a national infrastructure strategy for the next decade that makes choices based on "economics, not politics."The BAF Ed Fund is not alone in calling for a long-term strategy to rebuild U.S. infrastructure, especially when it comes to transportation. While such a strategy would be ideal for the country to have, I wonder if crafting one will be doable during the 113th Congress, considering the partisan divide between the two political parties and their differences over federal spending and solving the nation's debt crisis. Do you think it's possible for political leaders to reach an agreement on a long-term strategy to rebuild America's transportation infrastructure? Is it something you see President Obama taking on in a big way during his second term?Please share your thoughts on the topic by answering this week's poll question on ProgressiveRailroading.com, or by posting a comment in response to this blog.
We need a plan with an appropriate shared funding. The current gas tax is inadequate and discriminatory for lighter vehicles; and the public bears an inordinate burden in subsidizing trucking and corporate transportation costs through the gas tax, tolls, and income taxes. The public is being asked for austerity to relieve the burden for business; and that is near the breaking point.
One improvement would be to balance the gallonage tax encouraging energy efficiency with a vehicle weight class mileage tax reflecting the costs of construction and degradation to fully support road and transit infrastructure.