Highway construction projects across the United States could suffer as a result of a possible $14 billion decrease in federal highway funding in 2009, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).
Fueled by the struggling economy and rising energy prices, the Highway Trust Fund faces a multi-billion-dollar drop in revenues that could lead to highway funding cuts of 34 percent in each state, as well as more than 485,000 job losses beginning Oct.1, 2008, says Matthew Jeanneret, senior vice president of communications and marketing at ARTBA.
To help fix this potential crisis, ARTBA is encouraging Senate to support the Baucus-Grassley-Murray Trust Fund Fix on the FAA Bill, which calls for the restoration of the $8 billion transferred from the Highway Account to the General Fund in 1998, when Congress deemed that the Highway Account's $16.5 billion balance that year was too large.
Adding $8 billion to the Highway Account in 2009 would ensure sufficient funding for the highway program next year, according to Jeanneret. Several organizations, such as ARTBA and the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, are also calling for an increase in fuel taxes, a major source of funding for highway projects.
Congress recently rejected plans for a national-gas-tax holiday. The holiday would have suspended federal fuel taxes for 90 days during the summer, further reducing the amount of federal funds available to highway projects.