The American Highway Users Alliance proposes this plan to serve as an easy-to-read roadmap and reference for elected and appointed officials as they grapple with the major policy and funding issues that must be addressed in the upcoming surface transportation authorization bill.
This document does not attempt to provide an all-encompassing legislative proposal that satisfies every need of every individual member of the alliance. Rather, The Highway Users presents a united perspective from the pro-mobility, pro-highway community that clearly describes key priorities that define the core national values that need to be addressed in the next surface transportation bill.
Since the authorization of SAFETEA-LU in 2005, there has been a growing concern among transportation advocates that the national program has lost its focus and that public support for increased revenue for “TEA” programs may not be assured. While our research shows strong public support for highway programs, if this support drops it could not happen at a worse time: The Highway Trust Fund is nearing insolvency and, without additional revenue, the federal government may not be able to financially support critically-needed national highway investments.
To address criticism in the press of the 2005 surface transportation bill, stakeholders and policymakers have grappled with difficult, fundamental questions to improve the federal program for the next decade and beyond. These questions include:
- What is the appropriate purpose and scope for federal surface transportation programs?
- How should the federal program priorities be different than state and local priorities?
- How can the federal transportation program bereformed to attract significant public support for increased investments?
- What specific performance measures can be used to assure the public that federal-aid funds are being properly used to advance national transportation priorities cost-effectively?
Our proposal calls for federal programs that are national in focus and measured to achieve results.
We answer these difficult questions by proposing a simple list of critical national transportation priorities that our research has shown attracts broad public support. Our proposal calls for federal programs that are national in focus and measured to achieve results. The Highway Users’ plan is supported by four program pillars addressing the following critical national needs:
- Congestion Relief
- Economic Growth
- Improving Safety
- Improving Bridges and Pavement Conditions
All four of these pillars stand on a stable base represented by our proposals for (1) Sustainable Funding and (2) Environmental Stewardship and Streamlining. National polling data conducted by Fabrizio McLaughlin & Associates Research in April 2008, shows strong public support for these concepts across all demographic lines, party affiliations, and regions of the country. For example:
- 72 percent of Americans believe that the federal government should lead the funding of major highways and bridges. For all other modes, most Americans believe state and local governments should have the lead funding role.
- 88 percent of Americans are concerned about congestion on our nation’s major highways and bridges.
- 80 percent of Americans believe that safety improvements are needed.
- Strong majorities support highway investments to address their concerns about America competing in the global economy (62 percent) and the poor condition of major bridges (77 percent).
- Although many transportation advocates worry about the level of public support for the federal highway program, our research shows nearly three-quarters of Americans support increased investments in infrastructure, and 57 percent would support an increase in gasoline user fees if the funds were dedicated only to transportation.
- Finally, 14 out of 15 Americans believe it is important for federal elected officials to support the position that fuel taxes and other highway fees be dedicated only for highway and bridge improvements.
The members of the American Highway Users Alliance and its staff look forward to working with Congress and the Executive Branch to devise a ground-breaking new highway bill that reforms and strengthens our national investment in surface transportation. We are enthusiastic about continuing our tradition of close cooperation with the key decision makers and look forward to overcoming any obstacles along the road to the next highway bill. To contact The Highway Users, please call 202.857.1200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow this link to download the full version of The Road to Reauthorization.