Congress Punts but NC Can’t Afford to Wait on Transportation

On Tuesday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx sent this letter warning state officials in North Carolina that they should expect to receive no new federal transportation investments after August 1, thanks to the looming expiration of the MAP-21 authority. And yesterday, the House of Representatives voted to pass yet another short-term transportation funding patch with a bill sustaining the Highway Trust Fund through the end of 2015. The House bill makes adjustments to an array of seemingly unrelated funding sources to secure revenue, but unfortunately does not address the long-term challenge of sustainable funding. As this problem becomes more difficult to solve at the federal level, Congress has been forced to resort to such gimmicks to find the needed funds with each new fix.

This latest round of Congressional inaction on long-term transportation reform highlights the need for North Carolina’s leaders to act now to secure the future growth of our transportation network. By 2030, we expect to add 3 million new residents to the state roster. But, as evidenced by a report released earlier this year by TRIP, a national transportation research group, North Carolina’s inadequately funded rural roads already suffer from the 14th-highest fatality rate nationally. As 3 million new residents take to our roads and bridges, ports and airports, can you feel secure using a network funded by quick fixes? Can our leaders simply continue to mirror Congress, expecting short-term fixes to solve a long-term problem? At the NC Chamber, we believe the answer to both of those questions is a resounding no.

This session, we have a real chance to evolve the policy discussion on sustainable, long-term transportation solutions to the next level. The passage of Senate Bill 20 in March provided the first step in the right direction, stabilizing transportation funding fluctuation for the immediate future. And the extra money being pumped into both the public and private sectors from the successful 2013 tax and unemployment insurance reform packages will bring the added resources North Carolina’s leaders need to make securing long-term transportation reform a realistic goal in 2015. Let’s not take our foot off the gas now. Unlike Congress, we believe North Carolina’s elected leaders have the courage and resolve needed to tackle this challenge – not next year, or five years from now – but today. When it comes to securing the future efficiency and safety of our transportation network, North Carolina, quite simply, can’t afford to wait.

We encourage you to listen to the NC Chamber’s latest radio ad and visit www.nccantaffordtowait.com to let our elected leaders know that North Carolina must act now to secure long-term transportation funding reform.

Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber

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