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The IBTTA Legislative Summit: 205 Days to Change the World

By: 
Bill Cramer

When IBTTA’s Summit on Legislation, Policy and Infrastructure Finance opened in Washington, DC Monday morning, panelists and participants had a stark reality to confront. 

  • Federal transportation funding under MAP-21 expires in 205 days. 
  • Tolling agencies have a crucial role to play in paying for major highway infrastructure projects that are long overdue. 
  • Much of the momentum around the 2014 transportation reauthorization debate is pointing to a blend of funding options, with tolling a central tool in the toolbox. 
  • But IBTTA and its members have less than 30 weeks to change the world.

With more than 150 delegates in the room, the atmosphere was electric. Panelists were pretty much unanimous that the U.S. is not just heading for a transportation crisis. That crisis has arrived, it’s widely acknowledged by elected officials and policy-makers, and it’s time for the transportation community to make the case for effective, long-term solutions.

Decision-Makers at the Table

The Summit itself is making a solid contribution to that effort. Panelists this week include Florida Rep. Daniel Webster, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Texas State Sen. Robert Nichols, Chairman of the State Transportation Committee and Select Committee on Transportation Funding. Victor Mendez, Acting Deputy Secretary of Transportation, appearing on behalf of Sec. Anthony Foxx. And former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, Co-Chair of Building America’s Future.

Their presence at the Summit is just one more reminder that this is the year to close the transportation funding gap. A recent budget outlook from the Congressional Budget Office showed the Highway Trust Fund in even worse shape than analysts previously believed: A $77 billion deficit through 2019, rising to $172 billion through 2024.

And that's just to extend current spending levels. According to the CBO, a six-year surface transportation bill would require $100 billion in additional revenue.

Time to Tell the Story

Rep. Bill Shuster, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has repeatedly urged stakeholders to educate members of Congress, state and local officials, and their staffs. Now is the time to act on that suggestion.

The tolling industry is poised and ready to talk tolling, with great results to report from Pennsylvania to Austin, from Colorado to Northern Virginia, from Atlanta to Orange County.

But to finally solve the funding crisis, the entire transportation industry will have to make some tough, forward-looking decisions: In the end, you get what you pay for, and with more flexibility to toll existing Interstate highways, states would finally have the dollars to do something about an infrastructure crisis that is crippling the U.S. economy.

Be a part of the solution! Click here to find out more about IBTTA’s Moving America Forward campaign.