US: lawmakers want fund boost for highways and bridges image

The US Highway Trust Fund – which finances road and bridge projects – is set to receive a short-term cash boost, while Congress discusses long-term plans, according to the Senate Finance Committee’s two top lawmakers.

According to Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, a Democrat and the panel’s top Republican, Orrin Hatch, the fund needs a fast short-term cash infusion to allow it to keep ongoing projects. The $10 billion is necessary to keep the projects floating and avoid setbacks on highway projects and laid-off construction workers.

“We do face a near-term problem in that reimbursements to states will likely be impacted if the trust fund is not shored up in the very near future,” Hatch said at a hearing today in Washington. “Neither the chairman nor I wants to see a slow-down in payments.”

“I would say that we have a tough, a tough challenge ahead of us that hasn’t been solved for a long time,” added US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

In September, the ongoing two-year law worth $105 billion is set to expire, with Congress divided on how to properly boost funding – current methods that rely on tax collection from gasoline and diesel consumption haven’t kept pace with the rising costs of new projects.

The Transportation Department said that currently, the Highway Trust Fund could become unable to fulfill financial obligations as soon as July. On April 29, the Obama administration sent a proposal to the Congress, in which $302 billion would be used in the four years to follow for road and mass transit projects – with some of the money coming from new taxes – like those imposed to overseas companies.

Via Bloomberg