The American Trucking Assns. (ATA), is strongly endorsing an increase in fuel taxes as it holds such taxes offer the most efficient and cost-effective way to fund highway infrastructure needs, for both the average motorist and freight haulers alike.
“A strong transportation system is the backbone of our nation,” said Barbara Windsor, president & CEO of Hahn Transportation and ATA’s second vice chair, in testimony before Congress this week. “An increase in the fuel tax – with the additional revenue invested in projects and programs that address national highway infrastructure needs –is by far the best way to ensure sufficient funding for highway projects over the near term.
Windsor explained that trucking already pays what she described as a disproportionate share of the infrastructure tax burden, paying 33% of state and federal highway user fees yet logging just 14.4% of annual vehicle miles traveled on U.S. highways. “In addition to the federal fuel tax, trucks contribute to the system through a Heavy Vehicle Use Tax (HVUT) paid on all trucks above 55,000 pounds, a sales tax on all trucks and trailers, and a tire tax paid on all tires sold by manufacturers, producers or importers,” she said.
However, various assessments have estimated that all levels of government must invest between $134 billion and $194 billion annually in order to simply maintain the surface transportation system’s current level of maintenance and congestion, noted Windsor, with an investment of $189 billion to $262 billion necessary to significantly improve the condition of these systems and meet congestion reduction goals.
“However, spending is expected to cover just 29% to 40% of these costs,” Windsor pointed out. “So we recognize the need for additional revenues to support our nation’s highway and bridge infrastructure program. ATA also strongly supports the continued reliance on the federal fuels tax – both diesel and gasoline – as the primary funding source for the Highway Trust Fund. Consequently, ATA will support an increase in those fuel taxes provided the revenues go to improving the ability to move the nation’s freight.”