Here are five things worth knowing today:
1. As the nation’s infrastructure funding deadline looms, the Obama administration warns state transportation departments that it will cut off payment authorizations for construction projects if Congress doesn’t reach a deal to extend the measure by the end of July, The Hill reports. The current Highway Trust Fund expires July 31, and federal lawmakers are struggling with a way to pay for an extension, according to The Hill. “Lawmakers are grappling with a shortfall in transportation spending that is estimated to be about $16 billion per year, and they have not passed an infrastructure package that last longer than two years since 2005,” The Hill said.
2. Colorado’s DOT executive director is concerned with Congress’ inability to pass a long-term transportation bill, according to the AASHTO Journal. He told the Journal that his department depends on $500 million annually to fund road and bridge improvement projects. He also expressed concern that the Colorado DOT faces a shortfall of $1 billion in terms of projects needed versus current funding levels, according to the AASHTO Journal.
3. Mississippi transportation officials are against a proposal that would force the state to allow double-trailer trucks on its roads, the Insurance Journal reports. According to the report, Mississippi is one of 39 states that do not allow two 33-ft. trailers to be pulled behind a single truck. “Highway safety advocates say there have been alarming increases in truck-crash deaths and injuries and regulations should be tightened,” the Journal said. “Shipping interests say the growth of e-commerce and demands to reduce ground transportation costs and increase efficiency call for relaxed regulations. The fight has waxed and waned in Congress for years.”
4. Connecticut’s trucking industry will see some relief at the pumps this summer, as the diesel fuel tax will drop 4.2 cents per gallon on July 1, according to The Connecticut Mirror. According to the report, though this is the second, consecutive drop in the diesel tax, “Connecticut’s rate still ranks as one of the nation’s highest.” The CT Mirror has more.
5. Vermont’s transportation secretary is watching closely as states such as Oregon and Washington experiment with a vehicle miles traveled tax to reduce their reliance on gasoline taxes, according to Vermont Public Radio. Sue Minter told VPR that a plan that taxes motorists based on the number of miles they drive “deserves serious study.” The current 18-cent gas tax no longer fully funds the cost of financing transportation projects across the country, VPR reports.