Texas Engineers Say Economic Health and Public Well-Being Will Benefit from Gas Tax Increase

Dec 02, 2010, 14:49 ET from American Society of Civil Engineers

Local Civil Engineers Announce Support for Deficit Commission's User Fee Increase Proposal

AUSTIN, Texas, Dec. 2, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A proposal from President Obama's Deficit Commission to increase the gas tax as a means of reducing the federal deficit and improving the nation's transportation infrastructure today received a vote of support from the Texas Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), as well as the organization's national office.

"A lack of investment in our transportation infrastructure not only poses a risk to the safety of the traveling public, but also imposes an economic and environmental cost resulting from time spent idling in traffic," said Amy Smith, P.E., president of the Texas Section of ASCE.  "Increasing the federal gas tax is one means of assuring that adequate funds are available to provide proper operation and maintenance of our state's highways and bridges."

The federal motor fuels tax generates revenues that are reserved for investment in highway and public transportation improvements through the Highway Trust Fund. This tax, however, has not been adjusted since 1993 and has lost one-third of its purchasing power over the last 17 years. The Highway Trust Fund has become insolvent in recent years and required multiple emergency transfers from the General Fund.  The current proposal includes a 15 cent increase in the gas tax beginning in 2013 and would eliminate transfers from the General Fund.

In Texas 32% of roads are in poor or mediocre condition and 18% of bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Driving on roads in need of repair costs Texas motorists $343 each year in wasted time and fuel, not to mention the negative impact on our health and safety. And, in 2008, the Texas Section of ASCE assigned local roadways a grade of D, bridges a grade of B- and transit systems a grade of C. Congestion has continued to plague Texas, while funding for repairs and improvements dries up. Nationally, ASCE's 2009 Report Card for America's Infrastructure assigned the nation's infrastructure an overall grade of D, with bridges, roads and transit receiving grades of C, D- and D, respectively. It also noted that an investment of $2.2 trillion over the next five years is necessary to bring those grades up to an acceptable level.

Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers represents more than 140,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America's oldest national engineering society. For more information, visit www.asce.org. The Texas Section will celebrate 100 years of Civil Engineering service to the citizens of Texas in 2013.

SOURCE American Society of Civil Engineers