February 23, 2011
The United States needs to increase its investments in highway infrastructure, funding that can be obtained by raising the fuel tax, Celadon Group Inc. Chairman and CEO Steve Russell told members of Congress during a Feb. 19 listening session.
“We need to solve the problem of improving our transportation system,” said Russell, a member of American Trucking Associations‘ Board of Directors. “Highway congestion is hurting our economy — to the tune of an estimated 4 billion wasted hours and 5 billion gallons of wasted fuel.”
Currently, the United States spends just 2 percent of its gross domestic product on highways, Russell told House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica, Rep. Larry Bucshon, and other members of the panel, lagging behind the 5 percent typically spent in Europe and the 9 percent being spent by China.
Russell said that the most effective and equitable way to raise the necessary funds for highway improvements is by raising the fuel tax.
“Currently, the federal gasoline tax is 18.4 cents a gallon and the diesel tax is 24.4 cents, and neither has been raised since 1993,” he said. “If those rates had been adjusted just 3 percent a year to adjust for inflation over the past 18 years, the tax rates would be 31 cents a gallon for gasoline and 42 cents for diesel.”
Those increased rates, Russell said, could generate an additional $25 billion a year for improving existing highways, increasing capacity, and relieving congestion on the roads and bridges that trucks use to haul roughly 70 percent of the nation’s freight.
Russell concluded by thanking Chairman Mica for making the effort to hear from users of the nation’s transportation system, saying that those efforts were “much appreciated by the trucking industry.”