Friday, February 27, 2009

Highway Users Bewildered by Administration's Transportation Budget Proposal

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For attribution to Greg Cohen, President & CEO of The American Highway Users Alliance:

"Apparently, the staff at US Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Office of Management and Budget have not been listening to President Obama and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.

"Throughout his campaign and during his inauguration speech, President Obama promoted investment in 'roads and bridges' to keep our country moving. During his confirmation hearing, Secretary LaHood opposed the tolling of existing, toll-free roads. Yet the authors of the Transportation Department's 2010 budget framework must have been out of the office when their bosses were speaking.

"The President's strong support for roads and bridges serves him well. Despite the controversy over the Economic Recovery package, 94% of Americans supported the President's call to increase infrastructure investments. Roads and bridges rank #2 in importance among infrastructure priorities for the American people. And while Congress only provided 3.6% of the Economic Recovery funds for roads and bridges, the President's consistent promotion of highway infrastructure made his views crystal clear.

"Yet the 2010 budget framework for DOT includes no mention of roads, repeals the 87-year old contracting mechanism that guarantees funds for multi-year projects, and mentions 'road pricing' (tolls) as an option for states to deal with the meager funding levels.

"Given all of the stated support for roads and bridges, The Highway Users are mystified by the treatment of highway funding in the FY10 budget framework," said Greg Cohen, President & CEO of The Highway Users.

The budget framework raises four red flags:
1. The proposal implies that the 87-year old budgetary mechanism known as
"contract authority" be deleted from the budget. Without contract
authority, multi-year highway projects cannot be fully-funded.
2. There is no mention of President Obama's support for roads and bridges
anywhere in DOT's budget framework.
3. "Road pricing" is discussed as an option in the budget framework,
despite Secretary LaHood's opposition to tolling existing roads.
4. There is no room in the budget for any substantial increase in highway
funding, despite the President's recent call for investment levels that
would rival the funding for construction of the Interstate Highway
System.


Cohen stated, "Until these issues are resolved, the American Highway Users Alliance will remain deeply concerned about the FY2010 budget framework. We look forward to improvements in the final budget request and sincerely hope that the President and Secretary of Transportation continue to exhibit leadership in promoting roads, bridges, and mobility in the 2010 budget."

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