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Highway Users in Action, Issue 2, 2011

Upcoming Events

  • Highway Users President & CEO to Speak at Road Gang – On May 5th, Greg Cohen is scheduled to speak at the Road Gang. Cohen plans to discuss prospects for the highway reauthorization. Tickets are $25 and both Road Gang members and guests are welcome to attend the luncheon. The event is scheduled from 12:00-2:00 pm at the Channel Inn Hotel located at 650 Water Street SW, Washington, DC 20024. Free parking with validation is available at the hotel.
  • Save the Date – June 22, 2011 – The next Highway Users Board of Directors meeting will be held on June 22, 2011 in Washington, DC. Details coming soon.

Legislation, Regulation & Policy

Testifying Before the House Subcommittee on Highways & Transit – Highway Users President & CEO Greg Cohen presented testimony outlining our reauthorization priorities to the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. We focused on the urgent need for a well funded surface transportation bill that focuses on reducing waste, streamlining project reviews and focusing on the key national priorities articulated by our Policy and Government Affairs Committee. To read our testimony, click here.  Several Highway Users members, including witnesses representing American Bus Association, American Traffic Safety Services Association, American Trucking Associations, Greyhound, Intelligent Transportation Society of America, National Stone Sand and Gravel Association, NATSO, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, and Parsons Brinkerhoff were represented at the hearing on March 29th and March 30th. To read the testimony from all witnesses, click here.

Highway Users Respond to 2012 House Budget Proposal – The Highway Users, in coordination with several other transportation groups, is issuing a letter to House Speaker Boehner and Budget Committee Chairman Ryan expressing grave concerns with the House’s 2012 Budget proposal. Although details are unclear, it’s possible that the proposal could potentially cut FY12 highway appropriations by 30% or more and create new roadblocks for the multi-year reauthorization bill. The budget proposal, which would not affect the Senate, is an effort by House Republicans to cut deficit spending throughout the federal government. Unfortunately, the proposal does not recognize that federal highway investments, by and large, have benefits that far exceed costs. By not providing consideration for highway spending, the budget would tie Congress to funding targets that greatly increase the nation’s infrastructure deficit. A copy of the letter will be available on The Highway Users web site this week. The Senate is expected to develop its own budget resolution, which we expect will be more flexible for highway funding. Both chambers can waive their budget rules to pass a final conference report on the reauthorization bill.

Highway Funding for the Remainder of FY 2011 Unaffected by Bipartisan Deal – At the last minute on April 8th, a deal was struck to cut $38.5 billion in funding for 2011 and prevent a government shutdown. While several transportation programs were cut and High Speed Rail was essentially de-funded, highway spending will not be affected by the deal. The compromise prevented a shutdown of the federal government; however highway programs were not at risk for the shutdown because they were funded under a separate extension of SAFETEA-LU. That SAFETEA-LU extension, H.R. 662, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support on March 4th,. The Highway Users lobbied hard in support of this bipartisan effort, generating grassroots pressure through our legislative alerts and Facebook calls-to-action. On Capitol Hill, we contacted all members of the House in writing and worked with the Majority Whip’s office to ensure the bill received floor time under a closed rule. The extension passed by a vote of 421-4 in the House followed by Senate passage by voice vote. This bill surprised staff in the House Whip’s Office by showing the bipartisan strength of our program in a highly partisan environment. Without HR 662, highway programs would have been caught up in the same brinksmanship facing other federal programs last week. We are protected because the Highway Trust Fund, which operates under “contract authority”, provides our funding. Contract authority allows funding to flow in advance of an annual appropriation and is only possible when “user fees” are available to provide dedicated revenue. Our immunity from the threatened government shutdown is a reminder of how important the Highway Trust Fund is.

Facebook Grassroots Army Continues to Grow – The Highway Users Facebook page has amassed more than 13,000 fans. Our network of Facebook fans has proved pivotal on previous legislative campaigns, such as the I-80 tolling issue in Pennsylvania. If you haven’t already done so, please log onto www.facebook.com/highwayusers and friend us today! Thanks for your support.

Examining Sustainable Highway Mobility – The Highway Users is soliciting input in meeting with members to discuss the development of a sustainable highway mobility promotional paper and video. We are interested in learning more from our members about how you are contributing to keeping America moving in a fiscally and environmentally sustainable way. Our goal is to remind policymakers that highways and mobility are societal “goods” and to provide examples that demonstrate the benefits of a sound infrastructure system. The audience for this research project is policymakers, elected officials, and the general public. This effort will also aim to rebut the notion that sustainable transportation means getting people out of their cars and not building roads. If you would like to contribute information to this project, please contact us at info@highways.org.

Helping to Bridge Tourism with Highway Issues – The Highway Users has been working with our members in travel and tourism industry and allied groups to get the industry more involved in various highway issues. The group, which represents national associations only, issued a policy statement to Congress, which we appended to our testimony at our March 30th hearing before the Subcommittee on Highways & Transit.

Exhibiting at the ConExpo Show – From March 22-26, The Highway exhibited at the 2011 ConExpo show in Las Vegas. The show is one of the largest construction exhibitions in the world, with more than 120,000 attendees and 2,400+ exhibitors. For the second straight show, The Highway Users participated as a Supporting Organization for the event. The ConExpo show takes place every three years in Las Vegas and draws attendees and companies from all around the world. The show was the largest gathering in North America since 2008 for the construction materials and equipment manufacturing industries.

Providing Market Research Insights for the Commercial Trucking Industry – On March 29th Highway Users President & CEO Greg Cohen was a featured presenter at the annual meeting of America’s Commercial Transportation (ACT) Research group. ACT Research is the publisher of commercial vehicle logistics, data and market analysis. Cohen spoke with attendees representing truck manufacturing and logistics companies to discuss how uncertainty surrounding the strength of the federal highway program impacts the trucking industry. For more information about ACT Research, visit www.actresearch.net.

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