‘Extortion!’ Truckers Paying More Than Fair Share of Highway Revenues
Extortion: that’s what Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, calls the Washington gridlock that has resulted in the trucking industry paying half the tab of the Highway Trust Fund.
“The trucking industry also pays the highest corporate tax of any transportation mode,” Spears told an audience at the port of New York and New Jersey’s Port Industry Day last week. “I’m also counting tolls on exiting infrastructure that has already been paid for.”
“Because the folks in Washington, DC, don’t have the political will to do their jobs,” Spear said. “This isn’t about one political party or the other. It’s about doing right for the country.”
Spear harkened back to the Eisenhower administration of the 1950s when the trucking industry helped build the national highway network. “These days we have the Panama Canal expansion and east coast port improvement,” he said, “but we’ve lost the connection between the national highway network and those improvements.”
The United States road system is “rapidly deteriorating,” Spear said. Congestion and idling adds $63.4 billion in freight transportation costs each year, the equivalent of 362,000 drivers sitting idle for an entire year.
“That’s the cost of doing nothing,” said Spear.
The Highway Trust Fund is projected to run short of finds by the end of 2020, and without an additional infusion of $20 billion, highway funding to the states will drop by one third.
The ATA is proposaing a solution as par tof the Build America program, which would include a 20-cent fee collected at terminal ramps, phased in over 4 years and indexed for inflation. According to Spear, that would raise $300 billion in dedicated funding for roads and bridges over ten years, part of a proposed one-trillion dollar program being talked about in Washington.
There also needs to be an increase in the fuel tax, which hasn’t been raised since 199. “Reagan raised it three times,” Spear noted.
“Congress needs to do its job and we need to hold them accountable,” said Spear. “Congestion is contagious its spreading. It gets worse every year because congress doesn’t vote.”