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AASHTO Journal

VMT Fee Should Replace Gas Tax, ULI Report Suggests
Congress should consider initiating a vehicle miles traveled fee to replace the gasoline tax currently funding federal highway and transit programs, an infrastructure report issued by the Urban Land Institute and Ernst & Young recommends. The report also calls for boosting transportation investment through other sources.

This report is the fourth in an annual series. It focuses on the pressing need for long-term and integrated investments in transportation and other infrastructure.

"Investing in infrastructure -- done well and strategically -- can help ensure increasing prosperity and the rising standards of living that Americans have come to expect," the report contends. "Many countries around the world -- China, India, and those in Europe -- understand the infrastructure investment imperative and are working to build the transportation, water, and energy systems that will grow their economies for future generations."

There have been a few hopeful steps towards an adequately funded transportation system nationwide, the report notes. It highlights several transportation and finance programs in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act such as those for high-speed rail, discretionary multimodal grants, and Build America Bonds.

The document includes examples of a few transportation-oriented public/private partnerships currently underway in the United States, and notes how these can offer "guideposts" for similar efforts elsewhere. These examples include the Florida Department of Transportation's agreements for constructing a $2 billion tolled expressway expansion along Interstate 595 and a $1 billion tunnel for the Port of Miami, and the collaboration between the Texas Department of Transportation and a private operator for building High Occupancy/Toll lanes as part of a $4 billion widening and upgrade for Interstate 635.

One means of further encouraging those partnerships, the report suggests, is a national infrastructure bank based on Europe's model for financing and attracting private capital. "A federal infrastructure bank could help establish procurement protocols and standards, facilitating the bidding process," the report states.

The 102-page report, "Infrastructure 2010: An Investment Imperative," is available at tinyurl.com/ULI041310.

4/16/2010
Questions regarding this article may be directed to editor@aashtojournal.org.