American Highway Users Alliance warns transportation budget cut could be calamitous
Mar 1, 2002 12:00 PM
The American Highway Users Alliance has warned the United States Congress that the projected $8.6-billion 2003 transportation budget cut could be “calamitous” for state transportation projects and the economy. “A 27% cut in one year in the nation's largest infrastructure program is too much,” said William D Fay, president of the Highway Users Alliance.
Speaking at a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Fay put the magnitude of the cut into perspective. He noted that Nevada would lose more than $53 million of the $200 million it received in transportation funding this year. Similarly, Oklahoma would lose $118 million out of its $428 million in 2002 receipts. Fay said that the cut is likely to result hundreds of thousands of lost jobs.
Citing a landmark study commissioned by the Highway Users in 1999, Fay explained that very modest traffic flow improvements at the nation's 167 worst bottlenecks would result in 287,000 fewer crashes over 20 years, including 1,150 fewer fatalities and 141,000 fewer injuries; would significantly improve air quality; would slash fuel consumption by nearly 20 billion gallons; and would reduce commuter travel time by an average of 19 minutes per trip. With polls showing that time management is one of the greatest challenges facing American families today, 38 minutes less for a commuter driving to and from work represents more time for family, work, errands, and recreation.
Fay said his group strongly supports the Highway Funding Restoration Act, which would restore $4.4 billion to fiscal year 2003 transportation funding. He also encouraged Congress to enact the proposal to funnel gas tax receipts from the sale of ethanol into the Highway Trust Fund, close the loopholes that have been used by some individuals to evade fuel taxes, and invest in the nation's transportation infrastructure.
He said Congress should protect the integrity of highway use taxes and reject proposals that could reduce transportation funding, including the expansion of the ethanol mandate and suggestions that Highway Trust Fund monies be diverted to support passenger rail service.
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