Chambers urge Congress to refuel trust fund, pass transit bill

More than 260 local, regional and state chambers of commerce around the country sent a letter on Tuesday to Congress, urging lawmakers to resolve issues surrounding the funding of the federal Highway Trust Fund, which will run out of money in May.

The chambers also asked legislators to pass a long-term transportation authorization bill and said the investments in transportation infrastructure around the country are “key” to economic competitiveness.

Without adequate funding, the trust fund will fall into a deep deficit that would require serious cuts to federal highway and transit allocations, which could jeopardize economic and job growth.

“Indeed, many states have already halted certain projects in anticipation of such cuts,” the letter said. “We need your support to ensure the viability of this critical component of the nation's economy, including its ability to accelerate job growth.”

The chambers also asked Congress to implement several provisions in a long-term federal transportation authorization bill, such as allowing flexible federal funding to support all modes of surface transportation; permitting more local control by communities and municipalities over decision making, such as how to use federal funds; and expanding existing loan and bond programs that would help lower the cost of building transportation infrastructure.

“As members of the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, we represent businesses of all sizes that form the backbone of the nation's economy,” the chambers said. “Our business members know a reliable and resilient transportation network is vital to construction employment, getting other workers to their jobs, ensuring efficient and cost-effective freight delivery and providing residents with an outstanding quality of life, which is critical to attracting a talented work force.”