New ATRI Research Provides Clear Guidance on Infrastructure Investment

New ATRI Research Provides Clear Guidance on Infrastructure Investment

Phoenix, AZ – The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) today released its assessment of the nation’s transportation investment options. The report entitled A Framework for Infrastructure Funding concludes that the only meaningful mechanism for attaining the administration’s vision for a large-scale infrastructure program is through a federal fuel tax increase. The inefficiency of other mechanisms, including mileage-based user fees and increased tolling, will fall far short of the needed revenue stream without placing undue hardship on system users.

In addition, ATRI’s research documents that a federal fuel tax increase will incentivize states like Arizona to generate multi-million dollar matches to the new federal funds, ultimately moving the United States closer to the infrastructure investment goals proposed by both Congress and the President.

“ATRI’s study makes a clear case for increasing the federal fuel tax as the most efficient means for delivering transportation infrastructure revenue,” said Arizona Trucking Association (ATA) President and CEO Tony Bradley. “But just as critical for Arizona is the associated job growth – projected to be 8,744 jobs – that would result from increased federal and state infrastructure spending.”

“The trucking industry in Arizona already employs more than 109,650 people. We are happy to contribute more to the highway trust fund to ensure that good roads…and good jobs continue to support Arizona economy,” said ATA Chairman Kyle Wilkes.

The report further documents the consequences of continuing with the “do-nothing” option. The federal fuel tax has not been raised in more than two decades, resulting in significant costs to system users, particularly the trucking industry. While the trucking industry contributes more than $18 billion in federal user fees each year, growing traffic congestion and freight bottlenecks now cost the industry more than $63 billion annually. The report also indicates that growth of e-commerce will likely slow as freight deliveries fail to meet the real-time demands of U.S. consumers.

Other key ATRI findings and recommendations include:

  • A newly created federal vehicle registration fee would be the most efficient mechanism to fill funding gaps associated with electric vehicle use. These fees could be seamlessly implemented using the same systems as those successfully used to collect state registration fees.
  • A bureaucracy as large as the IRS would be required to collect, manage and enforce a national vehicle miles traveled (VMT) tax on the more than 250 million vehicles registered in the U.S. Additionally, mileage tax evasion would likely skyrocket under a program that can’t “see” non-paying users.
  • The practice of road tolling continues to be an expensive proposition for collecting highway funds. While several toll systems slightly improved their administrative efficiency, the majority of toll systems spend more than ten cents of every dollar collected on administrative activities. Many systems are losing money, and almost all privatized toll roads in the U.S. have filed bankruptcy. Finally, ATRI’s analysis found that many toll authorities have modified their public financial statements to increase complexity and decrease transparency of revenue management – which ultimately masks the inefficiency of toll roads.
  • In terms of secondary benefits from a fuel tax focus, ATRI’s findings suggest that every U.S. state would experience significant employment gains as a result of a 10 or 20-cent federal fuel tax increase. In total, states would receive between $15 billion and $30 billion or more annually through a federal fuel tax increase; nearly half a million jobs could be created nationwide with a 20-cent federal fuel tax increase.
  • According to the literature and public polling data, American taxpayers prefer a federal fuel tax over other funding mechanisms when the revenue is dedicated to transportation infrastructure.

You can download the full report from ATRI”s website at www.truckingresearch.org.

ATRI is the trucking industry’s 501(c)(3) not-for-profit research organization.  It is engaged in critical research relating to freight transportation’s essential role in maintaining a safe, secure and efficient transportation system.

The Arizona Trucking Association is a 501(c)(6) non-profit trade association that serves as the voice for business of trucking in Arizona.