NATSO joined a coalition of transportation, construction and business groups in urging Congress to oppose the devolution of the federal highway program and the Transportation Empowerment Act (TEA), saying they would strip away most federal funding for surface transportation projects and eliminate the federal government’s constitutionally mandated role in promoting interstate commerce.
In a letter dated March 16, the coalition encouraged lawmakers to work toward a reformed surface transportation bill with a goal of passing a comprehensive, long-term bill before the expiration of current highway law this May.
“Some federal rules arguably increase the cost of projects and slow construction, however, these challenges do not warrant putting the safety of motorists and the health of the nation’s economy at risk by decimating the primary funding program for our nation’s most critical infrastructure,” the letter states.
The coalition said devolution would prove disastrous to state and local governments’ ability to maintain and improve transportation infrastructure.
Specifically, TEA seeks to transfer authority over the federal highway program to states, forcing state and local governments to replace tens of billions of dollars for supporting highways. The bill saddles states with 90 percent of the fiscal responsibility, the letter states.
TEA was previously introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) in the 113th Congress.
The letter was signed by 22 organizations, including AAA, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Trucking Associations, the American Highway Users Alliance, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association and many others.
The Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates, of which NATSO is a founding members, opposes the devolution of the federal highway program because transferring infrastructure funding problems to the states fails to fulfill the federal government’s obligation to create sustainable revenue for the federal Interstate Highway System.
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