Imad Al-Qadi, Ph.D., P.E., Dist.M.ASCE
Highway Trust Fund
After a series of campaign-style events that put the spotlight on the Highway Trust Fund, and amid congressional debates over how to fund infrastructure improvements as the fund gets closer to running dry, President Obama succeeded in pressing Congress to approve a short-term fix that will keep the Fund solvent through next May.
The critical bill puts just under $11 billion raised from pension tax changes, customs fees and money from a fund to repair leaking underground fuel storage tanks into the Highway Trust Fund to preserve existing levels of highway and public transportation investment. Even though democrats and republicans argued back and forth over the short-term solution, House members from both parties ended up supporting the temporary measure to avert the looming Highway Trust Fund crisis which threatened to cause hundreds of thousands of job losses and to stall road construction, or what lawmakers referred to as “construction shutdown.”
While T&DI welcomes this short-term funding patch based on the fact that a short-term fix is better than no fix at all, we will continue to call for a long-term solution that will ensure continued pumping of funds for the maintenance and construction of roads, bridges, rail and mass transportation across the nation.
What can you do?
- All T&DI members are invited to show their support for a long-term, reliable transportation authorization bill and sustainable development goals by making their personal viewpoints, and that of T&DI, known to their congressional representatives.
- Another perfect venue for hosting discussions about infrastructure funding is the Transportation Research Board 94th Annual Meeting where several T&DI committees meet every year.
- You can also help in spreading awareness for the massiveness of the economic impact of infrastructure deficit by engaging the public in the existing debate through promoting www.FixTheTrustFund.org.
What is T&DI doing?
On the internal level, T&DI has recently been very active in developing and presenting committees-sponsored webinars that span a wide variety of topics from pedestrian safety and traffic signals to pavement preservation and design management.
If there are any specific topics that you would like to explore further via organized webinars or seminars, we definitely want to hear about them. Please share your ideas with us and we will do our best to help facilitate your proposed theme.
New Board Position Filled
Kelvin Wang, professor and Gilbert, Cooper, W&W Steel Chair in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Oklahoma State University, has been elected a member of the Board of Governors starting October 1st. Kelvin has been active in T&DI for many years, and we are looking forward for his input and leadership as we move forward. He previously served as chair of the Mode Spanning Council which will now be led by Zhanmin Zhang of the University of Texas at Austin. Zhang had previously demonstrated successful leadership as chair of the Infrastructure Systems Committee.
I would like to conclude with a reminder that the 2015 Airfield and Highway Pavement Conference is June 7-10, 2015. Special thanks are due to co-chairs John Harvey and Katie Chou for all their efforts toward the organization of this event. I’m truly looking forward to this one!