WASHINGTON — The nation’s top transportation officer will hop on a bus Feb. 17 for a tour of five states to tell residents about the need to upgrade aging infrastructure around the country.
Secretary Anthony Foxx’s four-day tour will begin in Tallahassee, Florida, and make stops in Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia, with a grand finale at Washington, D.C.’s Union Station rail and bus terminal.
Along the way, the secretary will visit officials at universities, manufacturing plants, freight facilities and highway construction sites to remind the public that without reliable funding from the federal government, many states and cities will struggle to maintain and rebuild big-ticket infrastructure projects. Last year, Foxx took part in a similar bus tour.
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“I am once again taking my message directly to the American people because they know that Band-Aid funding measures don’t build bridges; they don’t create jobs; and they don’t help us compete in the 21st century. We need to put our country back to work with a long-term funding plan,” Foxx said, in a statement.
Foxx was on Capitol Hill on Feb. 11 to urge transportation policy writers to craft a long-term highway bill. But Republican leaders who control the House and Senate have yet to present a transportation reauthorizing plan, and federal funding authority for state-level road construction projects is projected to run out around the time a 2012 transportation law expires at the end of May.The trucking industry and other transportation groups continue to urge lawmakers and the Obama administration to raise fuel taxes to fund highway programs.
Speaking to Transport Topics on Feb. 12, the secretary said his concern with conventional ways to fund projects, such as fuel taxes, is that they are formulaic. “You know, it’s like you plug it into the jukebox and it goes where it goes, when in 1956. And the problem is that we kind of need to break free of that,” Foxx said. “So, I think there’ll always be a role for user fees, for the gas tax. I frankly appreciate the (trucking) industry is pushing for a long-term solution and we remain open to where Congress coalesces.”