Approved by the Transportation Policy Committee on March 15, 2021
Approved by the Public Policy and Practice Committee on May 5, 2021
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 16, 2021
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports the concept of transportation trust funds, with revenues derived from user-based fees to provide a consistent, dedicated source of funding for transportation system improvements. Furthermore, ASCE recommends these funds be used only for their intended purposes by removing them from the unified federal budget or by other legislative means.
Trust fund assets should be used to the maximum practical extent to fund transportation improvements. ASCE supports the continued use of the motor fuels tax as a strong revenue source for surface transportation trust funds while other revenue options continue to progress.
Individuals and industries that use the nation's highways, airports and waterways pay direct user fees to the federal government to support transportation improvement programs. These funds constitute four separate trust funds, i.e., highways, airports, harbors, and waterways. Some of these trust fund balances have been included as an offset in the unified federal budget, thus masking the true size of the federal deficit. Trust funds should only be used for their intended purpose.
Providing a sustainable, long-term solution for transportation infrastructure funding is critical. Budgetary firewalls instituted in Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act are intended to ensure the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) meets obligations through 2021. The application of such firewalls should continue to be an option in all future highway and transit transportation trust fund authorization bills but securing a strong, continuous revenue source must be the key focus. Spending guarantees and supporting mechanisms should also continue to be used to protect transportation trust funds to help ensure that collected funds are invested directly in transportation infrastructure.
There is an urgent need for capital improvements in all of the nation's transportation systems as reflected in ASCE's 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. These needs have been clearly identified and documented as well in the U.S. Department of Transportation's Conditions and Performance Report, and other sources. A modern, adequate transportation system utilizing all modes is absolutely necessary to maintain our expanding economy.
The ASCE Report Failure to Act –Current Investment Trends in Our Surface Transportation Infrastructure, shows that from 2020-2029, deficiencies in America's roads, bridges, and transit systems will cost American households and businesses roughly $677 billion, including $83 billion in direct costs to American households.
Without increased investment, by 2029, the nation will have lost $472 billion in GDP and have lost 378,000 jobs which will negatively impact our highways, airports, harbors, and waterways.
ASCE Policy Statement 434
First Approved in 1994
Other ASCE policies that relate to transportation trust funds:
PS 382 - Transportation Funding
PS 497 - Surface Transportation Research Funding