As the House and Senate wrap up their work in advance of a Fourth of July recess and Americans prepare for Independence Day celebrations, a looming crisis threatens work at 100,000 transportation construction sites and 700,000 jobs around the country. While summer construction projects can be inconvenient to travelers, modernizing our roads, bridges and transit systems is critically important to our safety, efficiency and global competitiveness. It would be far worse if the construction work never took place or even ceased temporarily.
Unfortunately, the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) which supplies needed funding to states and localities is running on fumes and will no longer be able to meet its fiscal obligations to the states in August, further threatening jobs and continued economic recovery. All at a time when our infrastructure continues to age and deteriorate, confirmed by a D+ grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers. This is not a time to cut back or postpone for a later date to solve.
Congress only has a few weeks to replenish the fund when it returns from its break or work will stop at these 100,000 construction sites. It’s good news that leaders from the Senate Committee on Finance and House Committee on Ways and Means are coming together to start these important conversations about improving the fiscal health of the HTF. Manufacturers encourage the House and Senate to achieve bipartisan solutions that will improve the balance of the Highway Trust Fund as we seek a well-funded multiyear surface transportation authorization.
Manufacturers need competitive infrastructure to thrive in today’s global economy. Our infrastructure is out of date and resting on a legacy built by previous generations. Manufacturers responded to an infrastructure survey conducted by the NAM and the Building America’s Future Educational Fund last year. Two-thirds doubt that our infrastructure is position to respond to the competitive demands of a growing economy. Worse, 70 percent reported that roads are getting worse.
This issue goes far beyond state transportation departments and road builders. When construction is put on hold, manufacturing is on hold too.