Whatever you think of the passage of the $109 Billion transportation bill that passed the senate (74-22), the amazing thing is that it was about as bi-partisan a vote as we have seen in quite some time. This is clearly a bill that will create jobs but one can’t tell at this early stage whether or not the number of jobs actually saved or created will be worth the money spent. If it gets through the house and becomes law, my hope is that this transportation bill might actually lead to improving our highway system.
One of the key provisions in the bill is the one that will make it more difficult to privatize and create toll roads. The private companies, many of them foreign companies can also depreciate these roads over a 15 year period. The net result has been a higher cost of transportation for the trucking industry. Since this higher cost will be passed on to the consumer, the net is overall higher costs with the benefit going to a very small part of the infrastructure. So I tip my hat to Senator Jeff Bingham of New Mexico for that one.
The transportation bill sets in place the funding mechanism through which the federal government pays its share of the cost of transportation repair and construction projects that are carried out by state and local governments.
It largely continues current funding levels, although there are changes to some programs, including a grant program that seeks to leverage private investment in infrastructure projects.
There is a lot in this bill that may or may not prove to be beneficial in the long run. Part of its funding will come from the gas tax; however, there is a good chance that this won’t be enough to fund the entire cost of the transportation bill.
But all in all, at least it locks in a stable spending process, a streamlined bid process, both of which will hopefully enable consistent infrastructure improvement and a predictable cost basis that truck fleets can use for planning in the future.
I would love to hear your opinions on this transportation bill.