A move to pay for a national infrastructure program through user fees may be gaining traction in Washington.
For years, comprehensive infrastructure proposals have failed in Congress due to a reluctance to raise the federal fuel tax, which goes into the Highway Trust Fund.
That tax, unchanged since 1993, currently stands at 18.4 cents per gallon for gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel.
A proposal aired by former President Trump in early 2018 for a $1.4 trillion infrastructure plan that would have addressed road, highway, bridge, and urban transit needs ultimately went nowhere due to a legislative reluctance to increase the fuel tax.
Now Pete Buttigieg, tapped by President Biden to be the new secretary of the Department of Transportation, has indicated support for implementing a user fee.
Such a fee, according to the former South Bend, Indiana Mayor, would prove more equitable, charging drivers for the actual number of miles they travel, rather than the gallons consumed by a given vehicle.
The move has won the support of Missouri Congressman Sam Graves, who recently remarked during a seminar sponsored by The Hill website that the country needs to “pivot to something a little more equitable, something that brings in those dollars from individuals using the roads and bridges.”
The move for a new pool to fund infrastructure projects comes as the publication Transport Topics contends that the “White House can’t afford a delay on infrastructure and transportation initiatives.”
“Observers of the ways of Washington insist there is no better time than the start of a new administration for advancing historic policy bills,” adds the publication.
Biden is expected to shortly unveil his transportation plan, which presumably will include a funding component.
During last year’s presidential campaign, Biden touted what he called a “Build Back Better” program that would spend upwards of $2 trillion modernizing the nation’s highways, roads, bridges, and tunnels, among other initiatives.
By Garry Boulard
Get stories like these right to your inbox.