On Sept. 16, a broad coalition of highway users, construction sector groups, and the general business community sent a letter to strongly oppose the Transportation Empowerment Act (TEA).
The legislation, which has been introduced in the Senate and the House, would effectively eliminate the federal highway program by “devolving” the tasks of maintaining and funding all surface transportation to the states. The bill would reduce funding for the federal-aid highway program by more than 80 percent by 2019, leaving states to shoulder the major responsibility of maintaining the nation’s highways.
In some cases, state governments would have to raise their gas tax by as much as 30 cents to make up the difference. The letter calls the devolution proposal “ill-conceived” because it would “virtually eliminate the federal government’s constitutionally mandated role in promoting interstate commerce.”
The legislation was offered in Senate as an amendment to the Highway Trust Fund patch approved in July. While it didn’t garner sufficient support for adoption, 28 Republican senators voted in favor of the amendment.
The coalition encouraged members to focus on passing a long-term surface transportation bill before funding for the program expires in May 2015 instead of wasting time on plans that would destroy the federal highway program and place new burdens on state governments.
Organizations signing the letter are:
- American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
- American Concrete Pavement Association.
- American Highway Users Alliance.
- American Road and Transportation Builders Association.
- American Society of Civil Engineers.
- American Trucking Associations.
- Associated Equipment Distributors.
- Associated General Contractors of America.
- Association of Equipment Manufacturers.
- Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute.
- National Asphalt Pavement Association.
- National Ready Mixed Concrete Association.
- National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association.
- National Utility Contractors Association.
- Portland Cement Association.
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce.