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AAA’s CEO Addresses the Nation’s Transportation Funding Crisis

Congress and Administration Responsible for Letting the Highway System Deteriorate

Orlando, FL, (Oct. 22, 2013) AAA President and CEO Bob Darbelnet today addressed the nation’s transportation funding crisis during a board meeting of the American Trucking Associations (ATA). The following are selected remarks from his speech:

“By this time next year, the Highway Trust Fund will have insufficient funds to meet its obligations, which will cause further deterioration of nation’s roads and bridges. Regrettably, this looming crisis has not translated into Congressional action, nor a public outcry.

“There are a few leaders in Washington who stress the importance of infrastructure to our economy.  While we might give them high marks for effort, they are not getting a passing grade for results.

“Both Congress and the Administration are culpable of gross negligence by letting one of our nation’s greatest assets deteriorate. It is a shameful demonstration of bad government.

“Politicians have a choice – they can govern through leadership or they can govern through crisis. Our lawmakers seem content to wait for a crisis to take the action that we all know will eventually be unavoidable. Leadership involves taking risk, and the courage to do so seems in short supply.

“No one questions the need to invest far more in transportation, but there is no political will to provide the required funding.  The reality is that a dime increase in the gas tax, properly spent where actually needed, is unlikely to derail the re-election of an otherwise meritorious politician.

“But the fault isn’t just with lawmakers – there is plenty of blame to go around. The truth is we have done a poor job of mobilizing support for what we know needs to happen. I believe we need to do five things to address this issue:

  1. Establish a concerted coalition effort to construct a plan of action that focuses on not just what is needed, but what is possible.
  2. Agree on acceptable transportation funding mechanisms and articulate clear guidelines to ensure proper use of the funds.
  3. Educate voters on why the increase in funding is required. Public support is likely the most important ingredient for building stronger backbones in Congress.
  4. Broaden our focus to include both federal and state opportunities to fund transportation.
  5. Make sure we properly resource the effort. We need to ensure that we don’t set forth on this endeavor without fully understanding – and committing – the resources that are required.

“Without a safe and efficient transportation network, goods can’t be delivered cost effectively, family trips will take longer, and gridlock will continue to stifle the nation’s long-term economic recovery. Thank you for having me here today and I look forward to continuing to work together on these important issues.”