Here are five things worth knowing today:
1. Today marks the launch of the first pay-by-the-mile road usage program in Oregon. According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, the program, OReGO, allows Oregonians to enroll their vehicles and pay 1.5 cents per mile instead of the state’s gas tax. Participants will receive credit on their bill for state gas tax paid at the pump. The state is testing this program because, according to ODOT Director Matthew Garrett, “The gas tax drivers pay at the pump isn’t cutting it anymore. As newer cars squeeze more miles out of each gallon of gas, and more hybrid and all-electric vehicles are sold, paying for road use by the mile instead of by the gallon ensures that everyone pays their fair share – no more, no less.”
2. An article in Fortune reports that according to the Federal Highway Administration, more than a fourth of major urban roads in the country are rated in substandard or poor conditions, and more than 67,000 bridges are either closed or under use restrictions. And the trucking industry is catching the brunt of it. According to the report, Darrin Roth, vice president of highway policy for the American Trucking Associations, says potholes mean higher maintenance costs and lower fuel efficiency, and infrastructure disruptions add to emissions, labor costs and the chance for accidents. Fortune has more.
3. As the federal Highway Trust Fund deadline looms, lawmakers must quickly decide whether to complete long-term authorization of the fund and how to pay for it, according to the AASHTO Journal. The House and Senate both return from a holiday recess on July 7, and the House is scheduled to be on its summer recess for all of August and the first week of September. State official s already warned that temporary extensions have frozen many planned construction projects across the country, the Journal reports. “Actually getting to the expiration date without a new authorization and funding plan could lead to widespread shutdowns of highway projects, so state officials and many infrastructure advocacy groups have urged Congress to take strong action as early as possible during July to bolster the trust fund,” ASSHTO Journal said.
4. Virginia is looking to prioritize its transportation projects based on public benefit, according to The Roanoke Times. According to the report, the state’s transportation secretary explained the state’s transportation system has been plagued by “too few dollars and too much politics.” Under the new proposal, the closer a plan comes to delivering public benefits – such as economic development, congestion relief and accessibility to jobs – it increases its likelihood of receiving money, according to the Times.
5. Wisconsin Republican lawmakers approved a plan that would slash $450 million from the state’s transportation budget, Wisconsin Public Radio reports. According to the report, despite the cut, the plan would still require that the state borrow $850 million for roads and increase the transportation debt “to an all-time high.”