The July 7 editorial “Follow the states’ lead” raised a timely question. Congress tasked the Transportation Research Board, an arm of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, with developing recommendations to fix and upgrade the nation’s interstate highway system. One of 10 recommendations is to raise the federal gas tax to help pay for needed modernization.
TRB’s Future Interstate Study, completed late last year , calls for Congress to legislate an interstate highway system Renewal and Modernization Program (RAMP). As one near-term step, TRB recommends Congress increase the federal gas tax and to index it to account for inflation and improvements in fuel economy. It goes further, however, to also recommend lifting the ban on tolling on existing general-purpose interstate highways, remediating economic, social and environmental disruptions, planning for more automated and connected vehicles, assessing the system’s vulnerability to climate change, and more.
Time is not on our side. Neglected for far too long, the nation’s crumbling interstate highway system is unnecessarily costing Americans their time, their money and, in some cases, their lives. We can’t simply rebuild our aging highway infrastructure, which was first built by the Greatest Generation. Rather, we need to reimagine and reinvest in a modern, safe, cybersecure, connected and sustainable highway system so we assure its viability for future generations.
At Congress’s request, we created a blueprint for action to address the nation’s interstate highway crisis. To follow through will require innovation, resources and leadership.
Norman R. Augustine, Washington
The writer is chairman of the Transportation Research Board's Future Interstate Study.
The editorial on the federal gas tax accurately noted that the public is willing to pay increased taxes for infrastructure maintenance and improvements. But, because most infrastructure funded by the gas tax is local, it is time for the federal government to hand both the taxing and decision-making back to the states.
The federal gas tax simply takes money from states and then doles it back in uneven amounts, with residents of more populous states paying for roads in rural states. The responsibility for our surface transportation infrastructure should be put squarely on the states. If potholes go unrepaired, then my local state legislature will be wholly responsible. Let’s remove the federal government from collecting and doling out money based on fuel consumption by doing away with the federal gas tax altogether.
John F. Garziglia, Reston