So the U.S. Congress was finally able to pass a transportation bill—the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. Whoop-de-doo! It’s certainly way better than the short-term funding that we’ve been living with for the past 10 years. And, according to PCA, there are some good things in the bill for the concrete industry, “such as the authorization of a federal study to analyze the impact of pavement stiffness on vehicle fuel economy, the reauthorization of the Accelerated Implementation and Deployment of Pavement Technologies (AID-PT) program, and Hours of Service (HOS) exemptions for the ready-mixed concrete industry.” For a detailed analysis of the bill, check out ARTBA's white paper.
But unfortunately Congress did little about adequately funding transportation through the Highway Trust Fund, such as an increase in the gas tax that would have been barely felt by the average consumer, especially now with the price of gas so low. Look, I’m not in favor of a lot of taxes and I think the government at all levels should stay out of things they don’t need to be involved with. But maintaining the nation’s infrastructure is one of those things best done by government. I suppose some of the burden can be shifted to the states and counties, and we’ll probably see public-private partnerships pick up some of the slack, but the feds need to do big chunks of it and what they just passed does not provide enough money to move the country ahead. It will let us fix the worst problems with an assurance of continued funding, but it just feels to me like a golden opportunity to fund transportation into the future was missed.