Report: Higher gas tax needed to fix US infrastructure

By Mark Niquette | Bloomberg News

As much as $70 billion annually will be needed over the next two decades to upgrade U.S. interstate highways, far above the $25 billion now being spent, according to a report that proposes raising federal fuel taxes and allowing more tolling to help make up the difference.

The report, commissioned by Congress and released on Thursday, comes as President Donald Trump and Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives in January vow to pursue major public-works legislation in 2019 — but with no consensus on how to pay for it.

Congress should create a program modeled after the original interstate construction effort and increase U.S. fuel taxes — currently at 18.4 cents a gallon for gasoline and 24.4 cents for diesel — while allowing them to increase with inflation, the report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concluded.

The authors didn’t recommend an amount, but said the gas tax would have to rise to almost 30 cents a gallon within 10 years, and the diesel levy to about 40 cents, to generate $20 billion annually.

Other recommendations include lifting the current restriction on adding tolls to existing general-purpose interstates, and preparing for new funding and financing mechanisms such as charging motorists per mile traveled as well as accounting for the rise of automated vehicles and climate change.

“We recommend a course of action that is aggressive and ambitious, but by no means novel,” Norman Augustine, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin Corp., who led the study committee, said in a statement. “Essentially, we need a re-invigoration of the federal and state partnership that produced the Interstate Highway System in the first place.”

The 2015 federal highway bill called for a study of how to upgrade the system, which was authorized under President Dwight …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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