Looking at Transportation Funding Beyond the Gas Tax

Infrastructure Week discussions delved into options for offsetting declines in gasoline and diesel tax revenues. Is taxing vehicle mileage the answer? Oregon has experimented since last July with a vehicle-miles-traveled program, which allows up to 5,000 motorists to pay a 1.5 cents-per-mile charge, instead of fuel tax.

Odometer Image

“It’s actually not a foreign concept,” Joung Lee, policy director for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, told an audience that included state lawmakers, as he discussed mileage-based taxes last Thursday.

Lee likened per-mile taxation to paying for electricity or water in a home.

“If you use a lot, you’re going to pay a lot,” he said. “I think that kind of linkage is really missing when we’re talking about the transportation investment and the funding in this country.”

But Oregon state Sen. Fred Girod, a Republican who represents a rural district that stretches east of Salem, pointed out that mileage-based taxes continue to stoke privacy concerns, with some people troubled by the idea of the government collecting information about their driving habits.

“That is the push back, really hard, is the confidentiality of the information,” he said during the event where Lee spoke.

Read the full article here at routefifty.com

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.

New Federal Highway Bill Signed Into Law

The “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act,” or FAST Act, will grow annual federal highway investments by 15.1 percent from the current $40.3 billion to $46.4 billion by FY 2020. The legislation also provides five years of predictable funding for the asphalt pavement industry. The FAST Act uses a variety of onetime cost savings and non-transportation resources to supplement incoming trust fund revenue to support its investment levels over the next five years.

The National Asphalt Paving Association (NAPA) has put together a summary of the FAST Act. It highlights the Act’s impact on the asphalt (and related) industry. You can find it here.

Long-term Highway Bill Will Test New House Speaker

One of Paul Ryan’s first tests as speaker of the House will be passing a long-term transportation funding bill for the first time in a decade.

Congress has not passed a transportation bill that last longer than two years since 2005, and lawmakers are now facing a Nov. 20 for the expiration of the federal government’s current round of infrastructure funding.

Ryan (R-Wis.) had identified the highway bill as a top priority before he took the House gavel, but the rubber is meeting the road now that he is official the lower chamber’s leader.

Ryan did not mention the highway bill in his acceptance speech on Thursday or in his appearances on all five major Sunday political talk shows on Sunday, but he has called for a return to “regular order” in Congress were big bills like the highway measure originate in committees of jurisdiction.

“The committees should retake the lead in drafting all major legislation,” Ryan said in his Thursday speech. “If you know the issue, you should write the bill. Open up the process. Let people participate. And they might change their tune. A neglected minority will gum up the works. A respected minority will work in good faith. Instead of trying to stop the majority, they might try to become the majority.”

The problem is the highway bill falls under the jurisdiction of multiple panel, including the House Ways and Means Committee Ryan vacated to assumed the speakership.

Lawmakers on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee have approved a bill to spend up to $325 billion over the next years on infrastructure projects, but the measure only includes guaranteed funding for the first three years. Lawmakers on the infrastructure committee have said they waiting on Ryan’s former Ways and Means panel to come up with a way to pay for the rest of the transportation spending, a process which was held up by the unexpected speaker election.

The House Rules Committee is scheduled to take up the measure, titled the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015, on Monday, clearing the way for potential floor vote as early as Tuesday. The measure calls for spending $261 billion on highways, $55 billion on transit and approximately $9 billion on safety programs — but only if Congress can come up with a way to pay for the final three years.

Some Democrats have suggested raising the 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal gas tax that is traditionally used to pay for federal transportation projects.

“The bill under consideration calls for a six-year period of spending authority, and hopes to be funded for three years with a combination of budget gimmicks and tax code smoke and mirrors over the next decade. But Congress will be back to square one when that money runs out, facing an even bigger hole in the Highway Trust Fund — and once again throwing hundreds of thousands of jobs into uncertainty,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who introducing an amendment to the highway bill to to increase the gas tax by 15 cents.

Ryan has said he is opposed to the idea of increasing the gas tax, preferring instead to try to tap corporate revenue that is housed overseas to pay for roads through a process that is known as repatriation.

“I want to make very clear: I’m against raising the gas tax,” Ryan said in a June hearing about the transportation funding shortfall.

“There’s not much happening in this economy to help it grow, but lower gas prices is one of them,” he continued then. “Working families have been struggling for years to get by. They’ve looked high and low for good-paying jobs. Their paychecks haven’t grown much at all. And now they’re finally catching a break. It would be downright unfair to take that away from them. So we are not raising gas taxes — plain and simple.”

The highway bill that is under consideration in the House only includes three years’ worth of guaranteed funding, which would be paid for mostly with revenue from the 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax. The tax has traditionally been used to pay for federal highway bills since the 1930’s, but it has not been increased since 1993 and it has struggled to keep pace with rising construction costs.

The gas tax brings in about $34 billion per year at its current rate, but federal government typically spends about $50 billion annually on transportation projects. Lawmakers have turned to other areas of the federal budget to close the gap in recent years, but they have been forced to settle for a series of temporary highway funding patches that advocates say make it harder for states to plan large construction projects.

Transportation advocates have long pushed for a gas tax increase to close the approximately $16 billion annual shortfall in infrastructure funding that has developed as cars have grown more fuel efficient. Lawmakers like Ryan have been reluctant to ask drivers to pay more at the pump, however, leaving the federal government’s Highway Trust Fund running on fumes for years.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated it will take about $100 billion – in addition to the gas tax revenue – to pay for a full six-year transportation funding measure, which is the historic length of typical highway bills.

Mago Construction Paving Asphalt on US60 Versailles Road

Info Graphic Promotes Recycling Roofing Shingles into Asphalt

Recycling shingles rather than dumping them in landfills actually saves the contractor and homeowner money. In some cases, it costs half as much to recycle shingles compared to the tipping fee costs at landfills. Even beyond the financial benefit, shingle recycling offers a boat-load of environmental benefits. Who knows, the next time you re-roof your house, your old asphalt shingles may become part of an area highway. The shingles off an average sized house supplies enough material to pave about 200 ft. of highway — pretty cool! Click here to see contact your local Kentucky contractor to see if they are currently taking roofing shingles.

Shingle Recycling - From the Roof to the Road

Please include attribution to Hometown Dumpster Rental with this graphic.


Public Wants More Spending on Roads

A recent survey released by the Association of Manufacturers (AEM) found that more than three-quarters of Americans favor rebuilding or modernizing the nation’s transportation infrastructure. As the same time, about 60% were unaware that the 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax does not provide the money the Highway Trust Fund needs to stay solvent. The same issue is at play in state houses across the county, where many different plans are under consideration, ranging from gas tax increases to vehicle miles taxes to substituting sales taxes for gas taxes. Getting the public to understand the shortfalls in funding for the infrastructure projects they want and need remains a sticking point for the road construction industry. The National Asphalt Pavement Association Government Affairs Web page, www.AsphaltPavement.org/GovAffairs, has a section on MAP-21 reauthorization with information about the state of the Highway Trust Fund and transportation funding in general.

Jobs in the Asphalt Pavement Industry

We – the asphalt pavement industry – are leaders in the construction and maintenance of America’s road and highway transportation network. While asphalt pavements serve a national market, they are built by people who live and work in the areas that they serve. (more…)

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