A coalition of transportation and construction groups urged Congress to oppose the devolution of the federal highway program and the Transportation Empowerment Act (TEA), saying they would decimate the primary funding program for critical infrastructure while putting the safety of motorists and the health of the economy at risk.
In a letter dated Sept. 16, the group of nearly 20 organizations said H.R. 3486, which seeks to transfer authority over the federal highway program to states over a five-year period, would force state and local governments to replace tens of billions of dollars with tax increases or the redirection of existing resources. States would not be allowed to retain the revenue currently deposited into the Highway Trust Fund.
The bill reduces funding for the federal-aid highway program by more than 80 percent by 2019, from $45 billion to less than $8 billion, the letter states.
“Devolution represents abandonment by Congress of its constitutional obligation to promote interstate commerce and would prove disastrous to state and local governments’ ability to maintain and improve their transportation systems when it is widely acknowledged that current resources are seriously insufficient,” the group said in the letter.
The letter was signed by 17 organizations, including AAA, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Trucking Associations, the American Highway Users Alliance (AHUA), the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, and many others. NATSO is a member of AHUA.
The Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates, of which NATSO is a founding member, opposes the devolution of the federal highway program because transferring infrastructure funding problems to states fails to fulfill the federal government’s obligation to create sustainable revenue for the federal Interstate Highway System.
H.R. 3486 has 52 co-sponsors, but is unlikely to make it out of committee.
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