Anthony Foxx: Funding bill needed to keep pace with growth

U.S. Transportation Secretary and former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx asked national transportation leaders in Charlotte on Sunday to help pass a long-term transportation funding bill, saying the current funding system is short-term and prevents states from keeping up with population growth.

Foxx spoke during the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials annual meeting, which began on Thursday and ends Monday. More than 850 people were expected to attend the annual meeting of the organization, which is celebrating its 100-year anniversary.

“Every part of the country has a different set of needs,” Foxx said to the media after his speech. “But everywhere, the needs outdistance the amount of money that’s available to deal with it. This country’s better than that.”

The nonprofit, nonpartisan association, which represents highway and transportation departments from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, advocates for an integrated national transportation system.

History of persuasion

Foxx noted that the association has a history of persuading members of Congress to fund much-needed road projects.

But in recent years, he said, Congress has not pursued long-term transportation funding solutions. Instead, the government has used “short-term patches.”

He said that these solutions make it impossible for states to plan ahead. And they’re setting the country’s road system further behind when it comes to preparing for future population growth.

The resulting congestion and traffic issues are “bad for the economy, and it’s bad for quality of life,” Foxx said.

On Sunday, Foxx petitioned members of the association to actively encourage Congress to pursue a long-term solution for transportation funding.

Gas tax revenue declining

Adding to the problem is a decline in revenue from gas taxes, which have traditionally been used to fund road projects, because of declining consumption. He said another source of funding could be business tax reform, especially noting that some corporations that are operating untaxed overseas.

But he also said he’s open to ideas from Congress. “There’s not a Democrat or Republican that doesn’t get stuck in traffic,” said Foxx. “And there’s not a Democrat or Republican that doesn’t need a better transportation system.”