Although President Obama signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act last week, the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America hopes to see continued Congressional support for the nation’s infrastructure in the coming years.
The measure, which will allocate $305 billion toward infrastructure projects over the next five years, was the first long-term highway funding bill since 2005.
The major sticking point over the last decade has been finding funding offsets for another long-term bill. While not completely resolved by FAST, offsets such as tapping Federal Reserve dividends, and changes to customs fees and passport rules have been employed to support infrastructure.
“By providing state and local officials with some additional funding and five-years of certainty, we expect to see some long-delayed larger and more complex highway and transit projects get started," Brian Turmail, senior executive director of Public Affairs for AGC, recently told TI News Daily. "This will give our members who build transportation infrastructure greater opportunities to win new work, expand their headcount and invest in new equipment. Yet the measure will also help our broader membership by helping to cut congestion, improve transportation safety and add new capacity.”
While AGC is a strong supporter of FAST, there are areas the organization will continue to lobby for improvement, most notably the need for a sustainable source of continued infrastructure funding, which FAST lacks.
“The easiest solution would be to double the federal gas tax, which would return it to the purchasing power it had when the gas tax was last raised in 1993,” Turmail said. “We also support exploring a vehicle miles tax, greater use of tolling and private activity bonds, and have called on Congress and the states to make it easier for the private sector to play a role in financing transportation construction.”