Highway Trust Fund

Five states and two multi-state collaboratives will be the first recipients of federal grants under a $95 million program that could go a long way toward determining the future of transportation funding in the United States, it was announced this week.

While not likely to be a major issue in the fall campaign, the future of the nation’s infrastructure did receive some attention in the party platforms released last month in advance of the Republican and Democratic presidential nominating conventions. The platforms reveal very different philosophies that could guide the federal government’s approach to infrastructure in the years to come and have a huge impact for states seeking to meet their future infrastructure needs. But the statements of the presidential candidates themselves on infrastructure issues are also prompting some attention this week.

The transportation policy roundtable during the 2016 CSG Transportation Leaders Policy Academy in Washington, D.C. wrapped up with a panel discussion on the future of the federal-state-local partnership on transportation. The panelists included Emil Frankel and Jeff Davis of the Eno Center for Transportation, Joe McAndrew of Transportation for America and Brigham McCown of the Alliance for Innovation & Infrastructure. They discussed what the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act means for states, what happens after it expires in 2020, how states might be encouraged to innovate more on transportation funding, and why it’s important for federal and state governments to invest in better transportation projects in the future.

Ed Mortimer is executive director of transportation infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and leads the Americans for Transportation Mobility, or ATM, Coalition as its executive director. He was among the presenters at a policy roundtable CSG hosted on May 19 as part of the 6th Annual CSG Transportation Leaders Policy Academy in Washington. He spoke about the importance of infrastructure to the business community, the importance of Congress seeing progress on transportation projects under the FAST Act, the importance of maintaining existing infrastructure and efforts to consolidate federal transportation programs.

Joung Lee is the policy director at the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials in Washington, D.C. He was among the presenters at a policy roundtable CSG hosted on May 19 as part of the 6th Annual CSG Transportation Leaders Policy Academy in Washington. He spoke about the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act approved by Congress last year and its impact for states as well as the need for Congress to find a long-term solution to the solvency of the federal Highway Trust Fund.

Alison Premo Black, Ph.D., is senior vice president for policy and chief economist at the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) in Washington, D.C. In addition, she serves as deputy managing director of the Contractors Division and manages the Transportation Investment Advocacy Center. She was among the presenters at a policy roundtable CSG hosted on May 19 as part of the 6th Annual CSG Transportation Leaders Policy Academy in Washington. She spoke about the resources ARTBA offers to transportation advocates, the level of state transportation funding activity in recent years, the gas tax as a revenue source and Congress’ continuing quest for a long-term solution to maintain the federal Highway Trust  Fund.

Ten state legislators from around the country, chosen in consultation with the CSG regions, attended the 6th Annual CSG Transportation Leaders Policy Academy May 18-20, 2016 in Washington, D.C. The academy took place against the backdrop of Infrastructure Week, a week of infrastructure-themed events in the National’s Capital and elsewhere. Attendees had the opportunity to participate in Infrastructure Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill and to meet with officials at the U.S. Department of Transportation. They took part in a policy roundtable with stakeholders and experts from such organizations as the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Transportation for America, the Eno Center for Transportation and the Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure. In addition, they attended briefings on state regulation of rideshare companies, autonomous and connected vehicle technologies and transit-oriented development. The group also toured the area around Navy Yard, a rapidly developing, transit-centric D.C. neighborhood that is home to Nationals Baseball Park and the U.S. DOT headquarters. And they heard remarks from Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne about the commonwealth’s efforts to reform its processes for transportation project selection and public-private partnership deployment. This page includes photos from the three-day academy, the complete agenda for the event and links to web pages where you can read extended excerpts of remarks from many of the speakers, view their PowerPoint presentations and find additional materials.

Next week (May 18-20), The Council of State Governments will host a group of 10 state legislators from around the country at the 6th Annual CSG Transportation Leaders Policy Academy in Washington, D.C. As part of the academy, attendees will take part in activities around Infrastructure Week, a national week of events, media coverage, and education and advocacy efforts to elevate infrastructure as a critical issue. I have more about the academy and Infrastructure Week below as well as details about another key event CSG is involved with happening next month.

During a recent CSG eCademy webcast, “States to Watch in 2016: Transportation Funding,” transportation policy experts made some predictions about upcoming transportation funding issues, and possible solutions, in the states. Joe McAndrew, policy director at Transportation for America, said 23 states have approved plans to raise transportation revenue since 2012. In 2015, eight states passed gas tax increases while other states considered tolling changes and other revenue options. But, according to McAndrew and other presenters, 2016 could be a slow year for major transportation funding initiatives.

Facing continuing uncertainty with regards to federal funding, Tennessee and other states have postponed millions of dollars in transportation projects. But even as a gas tax increase has become a political third rail in Washington, many states have turned to the venerable transportation revenue mechanism this year to advance their transportation programs. This session highlighted both the impact of federal uncertainty and the successes of those states that passed gas tax increases in 2015.