‘Latest News’

KYTC Announces Long-awaited New Leadership Appointments

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) Secretary Greg Thomas today announced Patty Dunaway, P.E., will serve as state highway engineer. Dunaway becomes the second woman in Cabinet history to assume the role.Patty_Dunaway

 “Patty’s extensive career in engineering will help shape our strategic vision for improving Kentucky’s vast transportation network,” said Sec. Thomas. “I look forward to working with Patty and her talented team as we begin to address the budgetary challenges facing the Cabinet.”

Patty began her career at KYTC as a scholarship student in 1990, working summers out of the Lexington and Elizabethtown district offices. During her 26 year career at the Cabinet, she worked in various areas including construction, design, planning and most recently, serving as chief district engineer for the District Four highway office in Elizabethtown since 2006. 

“I am very thankful for this opportunity and honored to continue to serve Kentucky alongside the great employees of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet,” said Dunaway.

Dunaway has been involved with various planning studies including the Heartland Parkway and the U.S. 31W Safety Corridor. She has managed the Safety Program and the annual Rural Secondary Program for District Four. Dunaway initiated the I-65 Incident Management Team and was responsible for overseeing the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) highway projects at Ft. Knox as well as the remaining 30 mile widening project of I-65 to six lanes.

Throughout her career, she served as district coordinator for the Kentucky Engineering Exposure Network (KEEN) and the director for the Kentucky Association of Transportation Engineers. In 2011, Dunaway was named the University of Kentucky’s Young Engineer of the Year.

Dunaway holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Kentucky.

She lives in Leitchfield with her husband Jerry and has two daughters, Dawn and Tara, who attend the University of Louisville. The appointment is effective May 1.

The state highway engineer oversees the Department of Highways, which is responsible for 12 highway districts as well as numerous offices and divisions. More information can be found at http://transportation.ky.gov/Organizational-Resources/Organizational%20Charts/Highways.pdf 

Barber named deputy state highway engineer for Project Delivery and Preservation

Andy Barber, P.E., of Louisville, will serve as the deputy state highway engineer for Project Delivery and Preservation.

Andy-BarberPrior to his appointment, Barber was an assistant state highway engineer serving as project manager for the $2.3 billion Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project. Barber began his career at the Cabinet as a scholarship student in 2001. He previously served as deputy project manager for the Bridges Project, project manager for the Milton Madison Bridge Replacement Project and as a resident engineer in the Cabinet’s Lexington district.

Barber received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Kentucky. Business First of Louisville named Barber “Forty Under 40” in 2012.

Andy, his wife Jennifer, and daughters Molly and Lucy make their home in Louisville.

Paul Looney, P.E., of Frankfort, will serve as the deputy state highway engineer for Project Development.Paul_Looney

Paul also began his career at the Cabinet as a KYTC scholarship student. Looney spent 16 years in the Division of Highway Design as a pavement engineer and the pavement branch manager for six years. Paul currently serves as an assistant state highway engineer working primarily in project development. He has been the project manager for the Interstate 69 project since 2014.

Looney received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Kentucky.  In 2015, Looney helped develop the Project Manager’s Boot Camp.

Paul, his wife Natalie, and their son Lachlan reside in Frankfort.

Both appointments are effective May 1.

Obama Signs Short-Term Highway Bill

PresideRoad Constructionnt Obama signed a three-month stopgap bill to keep federal highway funding from coming to a screeching halt but scolded lawmakers for failing to agree on a long-term funding measure.

The $8.1 billion measure approved by the Senate will extend infrastructure spending until Oct. 29. The Senate also approved a six-year highway bill, but House Republican leaders refused to address the measure before the House adjourned for summer vacation.

Obama said he had no choice but to sign the short-term fix to prevent an abrupt cutoff in infrastructure funding.

“We can’t keep on funding transportation by the seat of our pants,” Obama told reporters in the Oval Office.

Obama also criticized Congress for failing to renew the Export-Import Bank, which was left out of the highway bill against the White House’s wishes, and for making little progress on budget talks.

“We should not be leaving all the business of the U.S. government until the last minute,” he said.

Obama said the Ex-Im Bank “creates tens of thousands of jobs across the country.”

The House is set to reconvene after Labor Day.


Article courtesy of Roads & Bridges – August 3, 2015

Site-Safe Products Expanding Operations in Leitchfield

Site-Safe LLCFRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 17, 2015) – Governor Steve Beshear today announced plans for Site-Safe Products, a manufacturer and installer of highway and work zone safety systems, to build a new facility in Grayson County.

Site-Safe plans to invest $1.7 million to build a new, more efficient facility on 26 acres in the Leitchfield Industrial Park to streamline its manufacturing process and allow for future growth.

“This investment is a great example of growth in a Kentucky business,” said Gov. Beshear. “To see a company choose to locate its new facility in the heart of our state highlights the Kentucky advantage for logistics and the strong business climate.”

This is Site-Safe’s second recent expansion in Kentucky.

As Site-Safe expands its regional footprint in the safety industry, the company plans to bring its operations together under one roof to poise itself for growth.

In 2014, the company made significant investments in its primary location in nearby Clarkson, which will remain its administrative office. The current project, which will be completed this fall, is the next step for Site-Safe’s growth.

“Our mission at Site-Safe is to expand into a nationally recognized highway safety products company driven by the opportunity for our employees to grow and prosper from within,” said David Rich, president of Site-Safe. “With the support from the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, we can continue moving towards our goal at a rapid pace.”

Site-Safe specializes in the development, sale, rental and services of safety equipment for traffic control, pedestrian safety, perimeter security and work zone safety. The company works with construction and energy contractors in the United States and Canada. The company currently has 26 employees in Kentucky.

“We are very appreciative of the $1.7 million investment Site-Safe has made in Grayson County,” said Sen. Carroll Gibson, of Leitchfield. “It is wonderful to see the manufacturing industry alive and well in the Commonwealth, and we are happy to provide the business-friendly nature for such an investment in our community.”

“Over the past 14 years we’ve had the pleasure of watching Site-Safe grow from a single facility to their current campus-style setup in Clarkson,” said Leitchfield Mayor William H. Thomason. “As they transition production to a 26-acre facility in neighboring Leitchfield, I’m sure that we’ll continue to see great things from this organization.”

“The Grayson County Fiscal Court and I are certainly proud of the continued growth and progress of Site-Safe,” said Grayson County Judge-Executive Gary Logsdon. “We would like to congratulate them on their new facility and wish them future success in our community.”

To encourage the investment and job creation in, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority approved the company for tax incentives up to $45,000 through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act. The program allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing equipment.

In addition, Site-Safe is eligible to receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies are eligible to receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives. Last year, the Kentucky Skills Network trained more than 84,000 employees from more than 4,100 Kentucky companies.

For more information on Site-Safe, visit www.sitesafeonline.com.

A detailed community profile for Grayson County can be viewed here.

Article courtesy of Kentucky.gov

Monday, 08 17, 2015

Terry Sebastian
Jennifer Brislin

Senate Reaches Preliminary Agreement on Highway Funding Bill

WASHINGTON—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) announced a preliminary agreement on a six-year highway bill with “three years of guaranteed funding” for the Highway Trust Fund, the latest development in a fast-moving debate over the federal government’s share of spending on road, bridge and mass-transit programs.

But the agreement, reached with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.), ran into early problems Tuesday when Senate Democrats said they couldn’t support a bill that they had not had a chance to read. The Democratic reaction may complicate efforts for Senate passage in time for the House to consider by next week, the chamber’s last week in session before it adjourns for an August recess. The authority to spend money from the fund expires at the end of next week, and in any event money is running short and Congress will need to replenish funds to avoid an interruption in reimbursements to states.

BN-JM495_TAXTAL_P_20150721150358“We’re not going to vote on a bill we haven’t seen,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), suggesting that Democrats would block the bill if Republicans don’t delay it.

The Senate proposal would also need to be squared with a House bill, which easily cleared the chamber last week. The House bill would extend federal highway spending into December, buying time to try to hash out a six-year bill funded by raising money through a corporate tax overhaul.

“It’s always been our intention to get to a long-term bill,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, adding that he still supported the House’s approach.

Mr. McConnell spent all morning completing the details with Ms. Boxer, an ardent advocate for a long-term highway bill and the top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee. Ms. Boxer and many of her colleagues have pushed for a multiyear highway bill because transportation systems around the country say they have a hard time planning ambitious, long-term projects when funding is available for a year or less.

“This is a breakthrough, but we need to see the details,” Ms. Boxer said. “This has been a difficult negotiation, but I think one that is going to bear fruit.”

Congress has for years had to scrounge to come up with money to fund the program. Infrastructure expenses are rising while the 18.4 cents-a-gallon federal gasoline tax that helps fund the program hasn’t been raised since 1993. Lawmakers also must hash out other policy differences tied up in the highway bill.

Under the Senate agreement, Congress would raise $47.1 billion to cover three years’ worth of spending through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases. Lawmakers came up with $9 billion of the total by agreeing to sell 101 million barrels of oil from the nation’s emergency stockpile over a seven-year period through fiscal 2025. Another $16 billion would come from lowering to 1.5% from 6% the dividend paid to all but the smallest banks that are members of the Federal Reserve system.

House Republican leaders have backed House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) in his bid to win support for an alternative approach, which has been endorsed in principle by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.). Mr. Ryan wants to raise money for highway projects with a one-time tax on corporate profits parked overseas in a transition to a new system for taxing overseas profits.

On Tuesday, Mr. McCarthy said he would withhold judgment until he was more familiar with the Senate bill, but said that a highway bill should be “actually paid for.” That was an apparent criticism of Senate negotiators who had decided to authorize highway spending for six years but come up with only enough money to last for three years.

The highway bill would both transfer money into the Highway Trust Fund and authorize spending from the fund. The current authorization expires at the end of the month, around the time that the money in the fund is projected to drop below the $4 billion that is essential to keeping money flowing to states without a delay.

Highway spending was traditionally a bipartisan exercise, but that changed as the political landscape shifted in the past four or five years and lawmakers fought more pointedly over federal spending.


Article courtesy of The Wall Street Journal.  By SIOBHAN HUGHES And KRISTINA PETERSON

Write to Siobhan Hughes at siobhan.hughes@wsj.com and Kristina Peterson at kristina.peterson@wsj.com

House Passes Five Month Extension, Senate Fate Uncertain

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 9.14.34 AM (2)On July, 15, 2015, in a bipartisan vote of 312-119, the House of Representatives passed a five-month highway funding extension with the blessing of the White House. The strong bipartisan support of 180 Republicans and 132 Democrats who voted in favor of the bill sets the tone for imminent discussions regarding funding for a long-term highway bill.

Aye   R   Whitfield, Ed KY 1st
Aye   R   Guthrie, Brett KY 2nd
Aye   D   Yarmuth, John KY 3rd
No   R   Massie, Thomas KY 4th
Aye   R   Rogers, Hal KY 5th
Aye   R   Barr, Andy KY 6th

The bill would extend MAP-21 authorization and funding until December 18, 2015. The legislation also provides $6 billion for the Highway Account and $2 billion for the Mass Transit Account to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent through the end of the year. The $8 billion General Fund Transfer would be offset by a variety of tax compliance provisions ($4.9B), and an extension of the aviation security fee increases through years FY’24 and FY’25 ($3.1B), once again opting to use 10-year revenues to pay for a five-month bill.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to make an announcement soon regarding the MAP-21 extension.  Sen. McConnell has been leaning towards an extension of two-years or longer to get beyond the 2016 presidential election. There have been a number of meetings with top Senators to discuss a path forward. Roughly $80 billion in payfors have been identified, enough to support a five year bill. However some of the revenue options are running into stiff Democratic opposition and it remains unclear whether the Senate can move a longer highway bill to the floor and pass it before the House adjourns for its annual August recess on July 30. If the upper body passed a longer term bill, the House and Senate would then begin deliberations on which approach to take.

Meanwhile, the Senate Commerce Committee acted on its title of a six-year, bipartisan MAP-21 reauthorization bill which encompasses highway safety and multi-modal freight, S. 1732, the “Comprehensive Transportation and Consumer Protection Act.” S. 1732 was approved by the Commerce Committee and will be added to the DRIVE Act reported out by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Federal Highway Funding Update

On June 24, 2015, the EPW Committee unanimously approved S. 1647, the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act, to authorize funds for Federal-aid highways and highway safety construction programs. The bipartisan support reflected in the 20-0 vote in favor of the bill came after lawmakers expressed the need for a program that sustains America’s infrastructure. “Passing a fiscally responsible, long-term highway bill is a priority,” said EPW Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.).  A quick summary of the legislation appears below.

While the DRIVE Act brings NAPA closer to securing the long-term funding necessary to create a system that promotes safety and greater mobility through establishing a new formula-based national freight program, a new discretionary grant program to fund major highway improvement projects and increase  federal highway funding at 3 percent per annum over six years, our work is not done.  Lawmakers must find a way to offset the estimated $278 billion dollar cost of the legislation.

The House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees are looking to find new revenue to pay for this legislation, but both have expressed the difficulty in finding the dollars necessary to fund a six-year bill before the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) authority expires on July 31, 2015. Moreover, the common sense approach of raising the gas tax to offset these costs has been rebuffed by leaders in both the House and Senate.

NAPA was able to provide testimony and pressure to the tax writing committee members during the CEO Fly-in, which occurred simultaneously with the EPW Committee mark-up. “The CEOs in attendance focused on the tax writing committees and came away from the meetings very frustrated,” said Jay Hansen, Executive Vice President of NAPA. “We will continue to work with Congress to obtain funding larger than what is recommended by the EPW Committee, and see elements of this legislation implemented as soon as possible.”

DRIVE Act Takeaways

  • S. 1647, The Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act.
  • Approved by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on June 24, 2015.
  • Six-year Highway Bill with 3% increases each year as follows:
    • $40,579,500,000 for fiscal year 2016;
    • $41,421,300,000 for fiscal year 2017;
    • $42,327,100,000 for fiscal year 2018;
    • $43,300,400,000 for fiscal year 2019;
    • $44,394,700,000 for fiscal year 2020;
    • $45,515,900,000 for fiscal year 2021.
  • The Senate Finance Committee must find $15 billion a year in new revenue to pay for the bill.
  • Establishes a new formula-based National Freight Program and authorizes $14 billion over six years for the program.
  • Provides $2.4 billion over six years to fund major highway improvement projects that exceed available state funds.
  • Removes the restriction on tolls on the Interstate Highway System for added lane capacity only.
  • Reduces TIFIA loan and credit assistance program from $1 billion to $675 million annually.
  • Reauthorizes the Accelerated Implementation and Deployment of Pavement Technologies Program (AIDPT) and provides $6 million annually for asphalt deployment activities.
  • Continues Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Every Day Counts Initiative and requires a new collection of innovations, best practices, and data be deployed every two years.
  • Allows local jurisdictions to use their own design standards different from the roadway design guide used by the state.
  • Does not include any pavement design or pavement type selection legislative mandates (LCCA, Alternative Bid, MEPDG) being pushed by the cement industry.
  • NAPA supports the DRIVE Act as the minimum and will work for a measure larger than the committee approved measure.

KHI Announce Scholarship Award Recipients

The Kentucky Highway Industries (KHI) Scholarship Committee, co-chaired by Bob Beam, The Allen Company, and Pat Judd, Gaddie-Shamrock, LLC, recently announced their 2015 Scholarship Award Recipients. The total allocation of $60,500 will be distributed to the students during the 2015-2016 school year. Since 1998, $616,000 has been awarded to deserving students to help them achieve their educational goals. Congratulations and good luck to the following students.

Vocational Certificate – $1,500.00 

Gideon Counts of Summersville, KY. Gideon’s parent John Counts is employed by Glass Aggregates in Magnolia, KY. Gideon is pursuing a welding technology certificate at Elizabethtown Community & Technical College.

Associate Degree- $2,000.00 

Sonya King of Somerset, KY. Sonya’s spouse Michael Ray King is employed by Hinkle Contracting Co., LLC in Somerset, KY. Sonya is pursuing teaching degree at Somerset Community College.

Alexander Milam of Falls of Rough, KY. Alexander’s parent Anthony Milam is employed by Scotty’s Contracting & Stone in Leitchfield, KY. Alexander is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Elizabethtown Community & Technical College.

Bachelor’s Degree – Freshman – $2,500.00 

Aaron Barnett of Winchester, KY. Aaron’s parent Marcus Barnett works at Sherman Dixie Concrete in Lexington, KY. Aaron plans to pursue computer science at the University of Kentucky.

Taylor Brooks of Glendale, KY. Taylor’s parent Jay Brooks works at Scotty’s Contracting & Stone in Elizabethtown, KY. Taylor plans to pursue a double major in English and history at the University of Kentucky.

Andrew Mosley of Jeffersonville, KY. Andrew’s parent Nancy Mosley works at Pro-Mark, Inc. in Mt. Sterling, KY. Andrew plans to pursue a civil engineering degree, beginning at Bluegrass Community & Technical College.

Michala Mullins in Mt. Sterling, KY. Michala’s parent Robert works at The Walker Company in Mt. Sterling, KY. Michala plans to pursue a marketing/business degree at Morehead State University.

Bethany Wheatley of Springfield, KY. Bethany’s parent Lisa Wheatley works at Haydon Bridge Company, Inc. in Springfield, KY. Bethany plans to pursue an occupational therapy degree at Eastern Kentucky University.

Bachelor’s Degree – Sophomore – $2,500.00 

Emma Conley of Brooksville, KY. Emma’s parent Leonard Conley is employed by Carmeuse Lime & Stone in Butler, KY. Emma is pursuing an elementary education degree at Kentucky Christian University.

Cole Hamilton of Owensboro, KY. Cole’s parent Jeff Hamilton is employed by Yager Materials in Owensboro, KY. Cole is pursuing a degree in agribusiness at Owensboro Community & Technical College.

Matthew Hinkle of Williamsburg, KY. Matthew’s parent Gary Hinkle is employed by Hinkle Contracting Company, LLC in Somerset, KY. Matthew is pursuing an agribusiness degree at Eastern Kentucky University.

Katherine Hooven of Georgetown, KY. Katherine’s parent Jeffery Hooven is employed by Intech Contracting, LLC of Lexington, KY. Katherine is pursuing a degree in special education at Eastern Kentucky University.

Erin Horton of Versailles, KY. Erin’s parent Gaye Horton is employed by the Kentucky Crushed Stone Association in Frankfort, KY. Erin is pursuing a biology degree at the University of Kentucky.

Katelyn Mullins of Frenchburg, KY. Katelyn’s grandparent Ronald Mullins works at The Walker Company in Hillsboro, KY. Katelyn is pursuing a degree in social work at Morehead State University.

Bachelor’s Degree – Junior – $2,500.00 

Savannah Day of Owingsville, KY. Savannah’s parent Shane Day is employed by The Walker Company in Mt. Sterling, KY. Savannah is pursuing a degree in chemistry at Eastern Kentucky University.

Hannah Evans of Lexington, KY. Hannah’s parent Martin Evans is employed by Bizzack Construction, LLC in Lexington, KY. Hanna is pursuing a business administration degree at the University of Kentucky.

Jake Horton of Versailles, KY. Jake’s parent Gaye Horton is employed by the Kentucky Crushed Stone Association in Frankfort, KY. Jake is pursuing a business management degree at the University of Kentucky.

Holly Hounchell of Cynthiana, KY. Holly’s parent, Angela Hounchell, is employed by Mountain Enterprises in Lexington, KY. Holly is pursuing a degree in computer information systems at Morehead State University.

Brandon Watkins of Cynthiana, KY. Brandon’s parent Diana Watkins is employed by Judy Construction Company in Cynthiana, KY. Brandon is pursuing an engineering degree at the University of Kentucky.

Sarah Eaton West of Tompkinsville, KY. Sarah’s parent Tim Eaton is employed by Glass Aggregates in Glasgow, KY. Sarah is pursuing a nursing degree at Western Kentucky University.

Catherine Woosley of Louisville, KY. Catherine’s parent Kevin Woosley is employed by Liter’s, Inc. in Louisville, KY. Catherine is pursuing a double major in music and psychological sciences at Western Kentucky University.

Bachelor’s Degree – Senior – $2,500.00 

Lindsay Cissell of Campbellsville, KY. Lindsay’s parent Tim Cissell is employed by Haydon Materials, LLC in Lebanon, KY. Lindsay is attending Campbellsville University and pursuing a business/marketing degree.

Laken McKinney of Ashland, KY. Laken’s parent Raymond McKinney is employed by Whayne Supply Company in Ashland, KY. Laken is pursuing a business management degree at the University of Pikeville.

James Sowers of Smiths Grove, KY. James’ parent Edmond Sowers is employed by Scotty’s Contracting & Stone, LLC in Bowling Green, KY. James is pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering at Western Kentucky University.

Taylor Wheatley of Springfield, KY. Taylor’s parent Perry Wheatley is employed at Irving Materials, Inc. in Springfield, KY. Taylor is pursuing an elementary education degree at Eastern Kentucky University.

The Kentucky Highway Industries, based in Frankfort, is comprised of the Kentucky Crushed Stone Association, Plantmix Asphalt Industry of Kentucky, and the Kentucky Association of Highway Contractors.


Governor Beshear announces award of contract to rebuild interchange in Hopkins County for I-69

Governor Steve Beshear announced the award of a contract for more of the improvements needed to bring the Edward T. Breathitt Pennyrile Parkway up to interstate highway standards and eventual designation as Interstate 69.

The project involves reconstruction of the interchange at Mortons Gap in Hopkins. The existing interchange will be converted to a diamond interchange to accommodate traffic moving at modern highway speeds. Road Builders LLC was awarded the contract on a low bid of $14.04 million. The project has a completion date of June 1, 2017. The project area covers about 1 mile.

“This is another important step in the I-69 Corridor project through western Kentucky,” Gov. Beshear said. “It will result in an interchange that meets federal interstate standards and get us even closer to completion.”

Reconstruction of the interchange is part of a larger project to upgrade a portion of the Pennyrile Parkway to become part of I-69. When the corridor is complete, I-69 will run north to south from the Ohio River at Henderson to the Tennessee line at Fulton. In addition to the Pennyrile Parkway, the corridor includes sections of I-24, the Wendell H. Ford Western Kentucky Parkway and the Julian M. Carroll Purchase Parkway.

One of the main challenges of the I-69 project has been the need to rebuild interchanges that were designed to accommodate drivers who were slowing and stopping at toll plazas – as opposed to merging with or exiting from 70 mph interstate traffic. The Mortons Gap interchange was among nine targeted for reconstruction. Five other interchanges are completed or under construction.  

To date, 55 miles of the corridor are complete – from roughly Nortonville (Hopkins County) to the interchange of I-24 and the Purchase Parkway near Calvert City (Marshall County) – and bear the red, white and blue shields of I-69. The first shield was unveiled by Gov. Beshear and then-Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez in October 2011.

The remaining portion of the I-69 Corridor between Henderson and the Western Kentucky Parkway is scheduled to have signs in place by the end of 2015 – getting nearly 100 miles under shield by the end of the year.

Congress Passes Another Short Term Highway Bill

Highway Funding ExtensionBefore scuttling out of town for the Memorial Day recess, Congress met a key deadline by passing a short-term extension of federal highway funds.

The punt by lawmakers means they’ll have to pass another bill by July 31 to keep road and infrastructure projects funded, however. And it won’t be as easy then to replenish the Highway Trust Fund, which pays for the projects.

The Highway Trust Fund relies on a federal gas tax for its money, and it is expected to run dry in July. That means lawmakers will have to find a different funding source.

The 18.4-cents-per-gallon gas tax hasn’t been hiked since 1993, and it no longer keeps up with current transportation spending. The federal government spends about $50 billion per year on transportation projects, while the gas tax only collects about $34 billion.

Congress will likely be under further pressure to extend the Highway Trust Fund in light of the Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia this month.

Democrats this week pointed to the accident as evidence of needing to maintain the nation’s infrastructure.

“We in Congress can help. We can and must make this investment before another terrible accident, before another life is tragically and needlessly lost,” said Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.), who tried unsuccessfully to add $750 million in funding to the bill to help railroads implement communications and signal systems to track train locations and speeds.

House GOP leaders originally wanted to renew the Highway Trust Fund through the end of the year. But they struggled to come up with the $10 billion necessary to cover the cost through that timeframe.

House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) acknowledged that Congress will likely turn to yet another short-term patch again in just two months.

“We will more than likely have to pass another short-term patch before the August recess and take steps to ensure the trust fund remains solvent,” Shuster said.

Congress has not passed a transportation package lasting more than two years since 2005, instead resorting to multiple temporary extensions over the last decade.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said this week that he hopes to pair the next Highway Trust Fund extension with tax reform.

But House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the second-ranking Democrat, expressed skepticism that a tax reform proposal from House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) could be prepared in just two months.

“It’s very difficult to perceive them — Mr. Ryan — coming up with a comprehensive tax reform package between now and July 31. But if the majority leader thinks that can be done, and he believes that that will produce sufficient revenues to fund the highway program, we will be interested in seeing what he has to offer,” Hoyer said.

Last year, Congress ultimately found revenue to pay for the Highway Trust Fund through obscure measures such as pension smoothing, customs user fees and money from an account for dealing with leaking underground storage tanks.

Transportation advocates are hoping that the new deadline when funding truly runs out will force Congress to find a solution.

“We hope that by setting a short-fuse July deadline, Congress will avoid another lull into complacency, and they will truly feel the urgency and have the resolve to properly fix the backbone of our nation’s economy,” American Society of Civil Engineers President Robert Stevens said in a statement.

By Cristina Marcos – The Hill – 05/23/15 03:12 PM EDT

— Keith Laing contributed.

Are Americans Paying Enough to Support Our National Highway & Transit Network?

ARTBA_pic.554288c27b079We all want safe, well maintained and uncongested roads, but a new analysis shows the average American driver is only being asked to contribute 1.2% of the annual cost we pay to own and operate a motor vehicle to fund federal investments in highway and transit capital improvements. We spend over 11 times more than that each year for auto insurance. The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) analysis looked at AAA’s just-released 2015 breakdown of motor vehicle ownership and operating costs and matched it with a calculation of how much the average motorist pays each year through the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal gas tax, based on data from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The gas tax collection is dedicated to Highway Trust Fund (HTF) supported programs.

ARTBA_2.55428954062dcThe ARTBA research found last year that the average driver drove 11,400 miles-per-year and paid just under $97 dollars in federal gas tax. This figure compared to fixed costs like $1,115 for car insurance, $3,473 in auto depreciation and $669 in auto loan finance charges. ARTBA’s research is the first to look at how much a driver is personally investing each year to build and maintain the important highway and transit infrastructure that is so critical to individual users and the nation as a whole. The HTF is important, ARTBA says, because it focuses its resources primarily on supporting state capital investments in the nation’s most heavily traveled roadways and transit systems. It provides, on average 52% of the annual capital investment in highways and bridges.

The amount individual road users contribute to the federal investment in surface transportation infrastructure is established by the federal gas tax rate. Since 1993, the rate has been fixed at 18.4 cents-per-gallon. This excise is not a%age sales tax applied to the total price of our gas purchases, nor is it assessed at the pump. It is collected when gasoline is removed from bulk storage terminals. And it is but one — relatively small — input among several factors used to determine the retail price we are charged for gas at the pump at any given time. According to ARTBA, these facts are relevant to the current congressional debate on how to fund the federal highway and transit investment program beyond May 31, when the current authorization ends. The program faces a $15 billion per year deficit just to maintain current funding.

In March, ARTBA rolled out a detailed policy proposal to help end the political impasse over how to fund future federal investments in state highway, bridge and transit capital projects.“Getting Beyond Gridlock” marries a 15 cents-per-gallon increase in the federal gas and diesel motor fuels tax with a 100% offsetting federal tax rebate for middle and lower income Americans for six years. The plan would help fund a six-year, $401 billion highway and public transit capital investment program and provide sustainable, user-based funds to support it for at least the next 10 years.  Even at this higher rate, the federal gas tax would still represent only 2.2% of the annual cost of owning and operating a vehicle, according to ARTBA’s analysis. But, by fixing roads, bridges and transit systems and funding new capital investments aimed at improving the movement of freight, the American public and business community would save time and money on annual transportation costs, the association says.

View the ARTBA analysis, conducted by the association’s chief economist, Dr. Alison Premo Black. She can be reached at 202.289.4434, or ablack@artba.org.

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