Congress facing difficulty to provide funding for US highways that require urgent fixing
According to a February report by US Department of Transportation, about 65% of America's roads are in not in a good condition, 25% of bridges need to be replaced, and public transit faces a repair backlog of about $86 billion.
Lawmakers from Congress members both parties agree that there is urgent need to fix nation's crumbling highways and bridges.
However, the money granted to the states from government through federal Highway Trust Fund will expire on May 31 unless Congress acts. The fund reimburses states for the cost of highway improvements and mass transit projects.
According to the Transportation Department, the states that have already delayed construction of transportation projects due to uncertainty over federal funding include Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Wyoming.
Even though raising the gas tax is likely the simplest way to keep the trust fund going, many lawmakers especially House Republicans hardly want to implement it as an increase in the price will make drivers have to pay at the pump, making voters angry.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said that funding highway improvement is a top most priority for congressional leaders. However, it's doubtful that the votes won’t come in favor of raising the gas tax again.
The tax, which is 18.4 cents per gallon, was last raised in 1993. According to projections by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the highway fund is facing a shortfall of about $169 billion over the next 10 years.
Kathleen Bower, vice president of public affairs for AAA said, “The members of Congress have kicked the can down the road for years and now we have a crisis. Most of them recognize in their heart of hearts that the way to fund this is through raising the gas tax”.
Bower added that politically unsound as no one is coming up with the political courage to do what is good for the nation.