April 23, 2018
Lately, Americans are barraged with news stories about exciting developments in transportation technology or personal mobility that match our on-demand, life-at-our-fingertips society. Smart cities that monitor vehicle traffic congestion, or driverless cars and trucks that will convey people and goods to their destination on time — these are very compelling.
Yet these stories are missing a major fact: the underlying infrastructure needed to make such advancements in modernization possible is not getting congressional support needed to connect rubber and road, so to speak.
Senior representatives from the nation’s cement and concrete companies — the North American Concrete Alliance — are here this week to help make the connection for Congress: you won’t have strong, safe and long-lasting transportation networks and cities without taking action on infrastructure.
NACA comprises 12 cement- and concrete-related organizations that collectively represent 600,000 employees and contribute $100 billion annually to the U.S. economy.
America’s cement and concrete industry are joining forces to urge Congress to take action on several fronts. We will be pressing lawmakers to act now — not next year, not in another Congress. How can a below-average national highway system, for example, rise to meet the vision for even greater transportation networks of tomorrow?
The cement and concrete industry is asking Congress to consider several key elements as part of any legislative approach that addresses infrastructure renewal.
The first is funding. Congress should pass a long-term, robust and sustainable funding mechanism that addresses Highway Trust Fund shortfalls, and allows for much-needed increases in highways and mass-transportation investments. Currently, lawmakers pay for highway upkeep through the fund, which is chronically under-resourced. All funding mechanisms should be on the table, including a fuel tax increase, a freight charge, a vehicle-miles-traveled tax and sales tax. Financing mechanisms, such as preserving the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds and lifting the cap on private activity bonds, should also be considered.
The second priority shifts from how you fund infrastructure to how you spend those funds. Our industry is seeking renewed competition for infrastructure projects to promote the best use of limited taxpayer dollars. To accomplish this,Congress should require the use of life-cycle cost analysis (LCCA) for infrastructure projects using federal taxpayer dollars. LCCA levels the playing field among project construction materials and enables competition in the marketplace. It is a long-proven, and widely supported process that helps planners, engineers and policy makers understand the full cost of a project over its lifetime, which results in greater accuracy, better performance and lower costs.