AASHTO Approves $544.5 billion Transportation Reauthorization Proposal

October 21, 2008
At its Fall Board meeting this week, AASHTO approved a proposal from its SAFETEA-LU reauthorization task force to recommend to Congress that next year’s surface transportation legislation authorize $544.5 billion in new funding. This would almost double the $286 billion authorized over six years in SAFETEA-LU. AASHTO recommended a menu of different measures that could be used to raise the revenue necessary to fund the program at this level, including: increase the Federal motor fuels tax by 1 cent per gallon (raising $1.8 billion annually); establish a national vehicle sales tax of 1 percent ($9 billion per year); establish a 1 percent sales tax on motor fuels ($4.7 to $7.6 billion annually); establish a distance traveled tax at 1 cent per mile ($32.4 billion annually); implement a freight tonnage tax (42.8 billion per year); create a tax credit bonding program ($50 billion); and institute a $10 fee per container shipped through US ports ($600 million per year). The container shipping fee would be maintained in a new and separate freight fund account. The AASHTO proposal also recommended a number of reforms to the program. Chief among them is to limit the amount of funds that can be earmarked for specific projects to no more than 5 percent of total spending. In SAFETEA-LU members of Congress earmarked 18 percent of the program for specific projects. AASHTO also recommended consolidating the number of funding programs from over 100 to six key programs as follows: preservation and renewal; freight capacity; highway safety improvement; operation and maintenance; congestion reduction; environment.
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