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Tolling Points

Manufacturers Issue Clarion Call for Highway Infrastructure Investment

By: 
Bill Cramer

Manufacturers Issue Clarion Call for Highway Infrastructure Investment

When elected officials look to the private sector as the engine that will drive economic growth and create jobs, they usually have the manufacturing industries in mind.

Last week the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) expressed serious concern about the condition of America’s infrastructure, especially its roads and highways.

Catching Up: Greater Focus Needed to Achieve a More Competitive Infrastructure was the title of NAM’s report on public and private infrastructure investment and its economic and industry impacts. The analysis is a clarion call for the funding that will be needed to close the infrastructure spending gap—with transportation infrastructure heading the list.

High-quality infrastructure is “indispensable for facilitating production across various industries—not least of which include agriculture, energy, mining and, in particular, manufacturing,” the report states. “The ability to safely and efficiently move goods from a manufacturing facility to a customer located far away is crucial to the industry’s long-term health and global competitiveness.”

Among all the facets of America’s enormous infrastructure deficit, “most notably and noticeably deficient is the state of the nation’s streets and highways,” where “costs in time, wasted fuel, and vehicle maintenance continue to grow annually.”

The report reinforces the benefits of tolling in “appropriate scenarios,” noting that pricing mechanisms can encourage users to use infrastructure more efficiently.

“Residential consumers of water and wastewater services already pay metered pricing for the cost of investment and maintenance of necessary infrastructure, and other forms of infrastructure could benefit from similar pricing systems. For example, congestion pricing systems, such as high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes and variable rates for mass transit, can help to reduce delays and improve system throughput.

“The case for placing more of the cost burden on users of infrastructure services with marginal cost pricing is well established. The revenue generated can be employed to finance capacity enhancements, and so the pricing mechanisms serve two important roles: to improve efficient use of existing infrastructure, and to finance extensions to its capacity.”

IBTTA Executive Director and CEO Patrick D. Jones applauded the NAM report as “another rumble in the steady drumbeat of reports that call on Congress to enact a long-term transportation funding bill. As the report suggests, tolling is one proven solution to help provide the adequate funding our roads and highways so desperately need. Tolling is by no means a silver bullet; but it is a viable funding and financing option that should be on the table for discussion.”

For more on IBTTA’s push for a long-term transportation funding bill, check out IBTTA’s Moving America Forward campaign.

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