Lawmakers seek solution to low road maintenance funds
Thursday, February 21, 2013
U.S. legislators are working to determine how to raise funds in support of bridge and road repairs. Current funding comes primarily from fuel taxes. With more gas-efficient cars on the road, more people taking public transportation and alternative-fuel cars in production, fewer of those taxes are being collected. This decline in fuel-tax based funding is likely to continue. Automakers will be required to produce cars that average 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016 and 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, further lowering fuel consumption.
Many suggestions on closing the funding gap
There are varying solutions to the problem under consideration, including an increase in fuel taxes. The federal gas tax has not been raised since the 1990s, which has several politicians and groups suggesting it's time to increase it. Thomas Donohue, chief executive of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told the House of Representatives Committee on Transportation "reasonable increases in gas taxes" could be phased in and tied to inflation.
Some states aren't waiting for the federal government to come up with a plan; they're exploring new options to increase funding. The New York Times reported that Washington and Oregon are among states investigating plans to tax drivers based on how much they drive. This plan has some concerned that tracking drivers could constitute an intrusion of privacy. Others are considering increasing state sales tax rates to close the gap in funding for infrastructure maintenance and improvements.
Transportation firms impacted no matter what the outcome
Roadway infrastructure and funding to maintain it is a significant concern for transportation companies that rely heavily on those roads to transport cargo or deliver services. An increase in fuel taxes is likely to be passed on by fleets to shippers, meaning businesses will pay more to ship goods. Companies are likely to increase the price of their goods to cover increased transportation costs. Regardless of the final funding source, without safe and adequate infrastructure and well-maintained highways, both commercial drivers and average motorists will bear the consequences.
Fleet managers concerned about the deteriorating infrastructure and how their drivers can avoid detours and delays may find it beneficial to employ the use of fleet management software. Transportation management software helps teams stay in contact, change routing on the fly and move freight efficiently and on time. Asset-based and asset-light companies find value in route optimization software, which can help drivers adhere to schedules and avoid poorly maintained roads that may damage their vehicles. High maintenance needs for fleets also cuts into productivity and profitability.