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Tolling Points

Could Critical Infrastructure Month Point Toward a Long-Term Highway Funding Bill?

By: 
Bill Cramer

With the U.S. Congress and the White House set to begin sorting out their dynamics and priorities after today’s elections, the timing may have been just right for President Barack Obama to officially proclaim November 2014 as Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month.

This isn’t the first time November has been designated as a month to recognize the importance and vulnerability of the nation’s critical infrastructure. “During Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month, we reflect on the important role our infrastructure plays in building a safe and prosperous nation, and we recommit to strengthening and protecting these important assets,” Obama stated in the proclamation.

But the timing could be promising for anyone who recognizes safe, reliable highways as an essential cornerstone of any national infrastructure plan. In the proclamation, the President pointed to the Build America Infrastructure Initiative as an effort “to improve our roads, water systems, electrical grid, and other vital systems.” And some recent news reports have identified roads and bridges as an area where legislators may try to find common ground after the dust settles on the mid-term vote.

That would be welcome news for drivers who face the fully burdened cost of transportation—from lost time to wasted fuel—every time they drive to and from work. Not to mention truckers hauling the essential goods that keep the economy moving, as American Trucking Associations Vice President Pat Thomas noted during IBTTA’s 82nd Annual Meeting in September.

And it would be a milestone for the hard work that IBTTA and many other national partners have put into the fight for a long-term highway bill that allows flexibility for states to use the transportation funding tools that best suit their circumstances. We’ve already seen that stable, reliable funding is a concern at the senior levels of the Administration.

“Those of you in the private sector don’t run your businesses two or three months at a time,” Deputy Transportation Secretary Victor Mendez told the Annual Meeting. “We cannot run a multi-billion per year business two to three months at a time, nine months at a time.”

So welcome to Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month. “This month,” the President urged, “let us resolve to safeguard and strengthen the systems we rely on every day and to support first-class infrastructure that can sustain America's role as a leader on the world stage.” For IBTTA members, that means celebrating what 35 states have already achieved with user-financed transportation, tolling, and redoubling our efforts to get more flexibility built into the next Transportation Reauthorization bill.

photo credit: blmiers2 via photopin cc

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