Today I participated in a webinar hosted by Transportation for America (T4A). The goal of the organization is shed light on not only the growing need for transportation funding, but also feasible solutions for future needs.
Some of the main talking points today revolved around the notion that, “A trust fund for transportation, funded by users of the system, is dead.” The federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon, imposed in 1993, is not able to support the growing infrastructure needs of this country.
The FAST Act, adopted at the end of 2015 to replace MAP-21 largely grants block funding to individual states for them to control. While I think this is generally a good idea, it seems to me that there needs to be some performance measures in place to ensure state DOT’s are using the money wisely. Additionally, FAST Act takes care of needs for the next five years, but does nothing to implement new measure to guarantee solvency on a long-term basis. In fact, the funds allocated by the program do not even cover the current backlog of necessary projects.
The landscape is changing rapidly. Some of the figures presented today by T4A show that Millennials now make up the largest share of the work force, and that as a group they largely choose where they want to live before finding jobs. This has forced many large employers to find solutions to attract young talent by “urbanizing”. The new generation isn’t going to spend two hours a day commuting. They want sustainable solutions that allow them to utilize alternative modes of transportation such as light rail and bikes.
This all comes full circle and highlights the fact that (not so) future generations are going to make it impossible for this country to rely on traditional methods of funding for infrastructure improvements.
Now go enjoy the day.