January 26th, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro
Dear Members of the 114th Congress,
AAA, the American Trucking Associations, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce welcome you for the 114th Congress. Our organizations are committed to improving our nation’s infrastructure system and look forward to working with you to fully fund the roads and bridges that are the backbone of American mobility and competitiveness.
Americans are frustrated with our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, including increasingly congested highways and deficient roads and bridges. Thirty-two percent of major roads are in poor or mediocre condition. This neglect costs the average driver $324 each year in additional vehicle repairs and operating costs. Commutes between home and work are longer than ever before, and the average American spends 38 hours each year stuck in traffic. Furthermore, congestion on the Interstate System alone costs freight trucks more than 141 million hours in wasted time, equivalent to 51,000 drivers sitting idle for a working year.
Fortunately, there is a simple solution to address this issue in the near-term: raise the federal fuels user fee, provided the funds are used to ease congestion and improve safety. While the impact of insufficient funding is evident, how we got here is not always clear. With this in mind, our organizations have put together an educational infographic on the Highway Trust Fund to serve as a primer for lawmakers and the general public as the funding of roads and bridges is considered this spring. That infographic can be found here.
There are many challenges that Congress must address this year, but we believe that finding a solution for funding the Highway Trust Fund is at the top of that list. Rather than continuing to resort to short-term funding patches that only delay tough decisions, our organizations support action to address the issue pragmatically, immediately and sustainably. While no one wants to pay more, we urge you to support an increase to the federal fuels user fee, provided the funds are used to ease congestion and improve safety, because it is the most cost efficient and straightforward way to provide a steady revenue stream to the Highway Trust Fund.
The last increase to the federal user fee for gasoline was 1993. Since then, inflation, increased fuel economy, and rising costs associated with labor and construction, have eroded the user fee’s purchasing power. Congress must act to provide a reliable revenue stream to support jobs, address maintenance needs and provide Americans with a safe and efficient transportation system. Congress has patched the Highway Trust Fund five times since 2008, continuing to kick the can further down the road, and now faces yet another looming shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund with current funding set to expire on May 31.
Thank you again for your time and consideration and we look forward to continuing to work together to address the funding needs of our nation’s transportation system.
AAA, American Trucking Associations and U.S. Chamber of Commerce
January 20th, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro
“The state of our nation’s transportation infrastructure is deteriorating, and without significant investment it will only worsen. President Obama has outlined numerous legislative priorities tonight – from making community colleges more accessible to national energy production and efficiency initiatives – but a key part of our overall economic success will depend on a reliable network to get people to school and transport new products to factories and stores.
“The President’s proposal to leverage corporate tax reform or private investment structures to support transportation funding would provide a welcome shot in the arm for our nation’s infrastructure, but this will not provide a sustainable fix to the looming funding crisis at hand.
“We have a tremendous opportunity with gas prices hitting multi-year lows to invest a portion of these savings to properly fund our transportation system. The user fee for gasoline – often called the “gas tax” – has not increased in more than two decades; yet long-overdue action to restore funding lost to inflation is finally gaining interest on Capitol Hill.
“AAA continues to advocate for an increase to this user fee as the most effective and efficient way to fund our transportation system, provided the money is used to ease congestion and improve safety.
“We can only hope that the promise of bipartisanship and collaboration prevails so that we can achieve a sustainable and reliable long-term funding solution.”
May 15th, 2014 by Amanda Shapiro
(WASHINGTON, May 15, 2014) “AAA applauds the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for quickly moving a bipartisan transportation reauthorization bill. It is now up to the Senate Commerce, Banking and Finance Committees to prevent a transportation crisis by acting swiftly on their portions of the bill so this legislation can move to the Senate floor for debate.
Chairman Boxer appropriately cited the option of raising the federal gas tax to address the looming Highway Trust Fund bankruptcy. AAA supports this viable and effective solution, provided the additional funds are invested in transportation improvements that benefit motorists. We urge Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Hatch to commit to a vote on this solution in addition to the other funding mechanisms that will be considered by their committee.”
Statement by AAA CEO & President Bob Darbelnet on the nomination of Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx as the new US DOT Secretary
April 29th, 2013 by Amanda Shapiro
(WASHINGTON, April 29, 2013) “AAA is encouraged by President Obama’s nomination of Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx to be the new U.S. Secretary of Transportation. We look forward to working with Mayor Foxx once confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and we are hopeful that he will help make transportation a top national priority. Mayor Foxx will face many challenges because the nation must address a significant transportation funding shortfall, and there are still too many Americans losing their lives on the nation’s roadways.
AAA appreciates retiring Secretary Ray LaHood’s unwavering commitment and bipartisanship in achieving national transportation goals. Secretary LaHood helped raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving and worked with AAA and other stakeholders towards a national goal of zero traffic deaths. His bipartisan efforts also helped achieve passage of a multi-year transportation bill, MAP-21, which included significant program reform and added funds for transportation.”
March 21st, 2013 by Amanda Shapiro
Statement by AAA President & CEO Robert L. Darbelnet:
“Today’s action by the U.S. House of Representatives in passing a continuing resolution is a victory for highway safety. The U.S. Senate served the nation’s interests through a bipartisan effort to ensure that MAP-21’s highway safety programs were adequately funded, which President Obama supported. Over the last few weeks, AAA clubs from around the country weighed in to get this done.
Safety funding comes at a crucial time, as we are now seeing a slight uptick in roadway fatalities. Today’s action was a good example of bipartisan collaboration that will help deliver better transportation solutions for the American people.”
March 19th, 2013 by Amanda Shapiro
“The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) today gave the nation’s bridges a “C+” grade, up from a “C” four years ago; and roads got a “D” grade, up from a “D-” in 2009. The good news for drivers is that the condition of the nation’s roads and bridges has improved slightly since the last report card was issued. The bad news is grades like these aren’t going to get us where we need to go in terms of safety, mobility or economic recovery.
We don’t want a C+ economy, and can’t settle for a D, or even C+ transportation system. We need Congress to take the lead, work toward a long term funding solution and ensure the American public understands the importance of investing in our transportation system before we fall further behind.”
February 12th, 2013 by Amanda Shapiro
Statement by AAA’s President and CEO Robert Darbelnet in Response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address
“President Obama’s support for transportation infrastructure in tonight’s State of the Union address is of critical importance to millions of American motorists that depend on safe roads and bridges to support their livelihoods and their families.
“America’s Interstate Highway System became the envy of the world decades ago because our nation’s leaders worked together to implement far-reaching polices of historic importance. The leaders of the time did not let the political risks detract them from developing a highway network that would stand as a monument to the engineering excellence of the United States.
“It is no secret that a great political divide and considerable funding issues have created significant road blocks to sustaining a safe and an improved infrastructure. Every day millions of frustrated Americans lose valuable time and money waiting in traffic, and they are relying on their elected officials to provide relief.
“AAA urges both the President and Congress to prioritize transportation this year to ensure that American’s can get to work, go to school and travel from state to state on roads that once again become the most efficient, safe and reliable in the world.”
September 19th, 2012 by Amanda Shapiro
(WASHINGTON, September 19, 2012) “I am deeply concerned that both Congress and President Obama have agreed to new FY 2013 federal spending levels that fail to implement the funding and safety gains planned in the recently adopted transportation law. The continuing resolution agreement breaks a promise made by both parties earlier this year to fully fund road, bridge and transit systems and new safety programs designed to reduce distracted driving and improve teen driver safety. AAA will work to ensure that critical funds are restored and vital safety programs are implemented as soon as possible.”
September 13th, 2012 by Amanda Shapiro
(BOSTON, September 13, 2012) — Transportation infrastructure may not be the most glamorous work of government, but it is a crucial part of the state’s growth strategy, Governor Deval Patrick said earlier today at a meeting of the national Board of Directors of AAA.
The Governor said improving the state’s roads, rails and bridges – in particular, through the five-year plan supported by a newly signed $1.5 billion transportation bond bill – will create jobs and a platform for future economic development.
“Increasingly, I think it is incumbent upon us to connect transportation strategy with economic development strategy,” Patrick said. “We’re talking about a train to the South Coast – to New Bedford and Fall River. It’s not just about convenience; it’s about opening up that region to the innovation economy in Boston. We need to think that way, talk that way, plan our transportation from that perspective, so people get a sense of the whole thing.”
The AAA Board held its quarterly meeting at the Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common hotel.
“This is the first time a sitting Governor has addressed AAA’s national Board of Directors,” said Boston attorney and former federal prosecutor Wayne A. Budd, national AAA Board Chairman and board member at AAA Southern New England. “Issues affecting the motoring and traveling public are of great interest to AAA, and we welcome Governor Patrick’s insights and views on these issues.”
Governor Patrick discussed the value of public-private partnerships such as the one that has allowed six AAA offices to offer select Registry of Motor Vehicles services.
“It has really not just relieved the pressure on our Registry of Motor Vehicles, but frankly, it has brought a more effective service to people in a greater range of convenient locations,” Patrick said. “It has made a difference, and it has helped in a time of stress on the budget.”
Governor Patrick’s plans for improving roads and bridges and developing a long-term strategic plan for transportation improvements in the Commonwealth won enthusiastic support and praise from AAA board members attending the meeting.
“Traffic safety and transportation-related advocacy are a major part of AAA’s national strategic focus, “ said Mark A. Shaw, AAA Southern New England President and CEO and national AAA Board member. “We have worked with the Patrick administration on several matters of interest to our Massachusetts members, and plan for more collaboration in the future.”
On the issue of a primary seatbelt law, for which AAA has long advocated, the Governor said the medical toll of unbelted crashes upsets him. The auto club plans to renew its campaign for a primary seatbelt law in the next legislative session.
June 8th, 2012 by Amanda Shapiro
(WASHINGTON, June 8, 2012) Today, President Obama once again cited the deteriorating condition of the nation’s infrastructure and the need for Congress to act to improve it. As a nation, we’ve underinvested in transportation for years, resulting in a backlog of needs, poor conditions and a substantial funding gap.
The federal transportation program is a few short weeks away from expiring unless Congress can move quickly to demonstrate their ability to negotiate and work towards a long-term transportation bill that will meet the nation’s mobility and safety needs. Transportation is not a partisan issue – it is time for Congress to act.
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