‘Virtual VMT’ Could Bolster Highway Fund

Pavement Preservation Journal
Winter 2016, Vol. 9, No. 4
By Gregory Cohen, P.E.

The American Highway Users Alliance is working with members like FP2 Inc. to come up with creative ways to package a user fee increase that can muster enough political support to ride on a larger tax bill in 2017.

As we contemplate how fortunate we are to have the Highway Trust Fund and the relative calm of knowing that our programs will enjoy steady growth through 2020, most of us are acutely aware that what we’re experiencing is the calm before the storm. We’re quickly burning through the latest trust fund bailout of $70 billion, provided by the FAST Act less than a year ago. To get another long-term highway bill in 2020, the next bailout would need to be significantly higher than $100 billion, even if future spending levels are kept flat.

The last two administrations and the last five congresses have shown absolutely no willingness to debate the merits of the obvious solution, which is to raise fuel taxes. Yet, they also have demonstrated that they don’t want to cut highway funding, devolve the federal program to the states, nor reduce the scope of the surface transportation program, aside from a few minor prohibitions on low-dollar items like “median beautification.”

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