As the House prepares to vote on a temporary measure to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent, the Obama Administration is touting the economic benefits of infrastructure investment.
Paying for roads and bridges is something President Obama is pushing all week. But sometimes, the local road to funding is faster.
Former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood says states are the ones moving boldly to pay for fixes. He points to places like Wyoming, which hiked its gas tax last year.
“The states are not waiting around for the federal government, because the federal government isn’t doing anything,” he says.
“We see this at the ballot box,” says Robert Puentes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. He says in the last couple years, “about 70 percent of the votes to increase investment on the state and local level passed.”
Puentes says, when it comes to transportation infrastructure, part of the difficulty in Congress is that the federal role isn’t as defined as it was, for example, during the interstate highway era.
“We had a program that was designed to build the interstates, to connect metropolitan areas, to get farmers out of the mud,” he says. “There was a clear understanding of the purpose of the program, there were clear economic connections.”
Without that clarity, he says it may be difficult to get sustained federal investment in the nation’s infrastructure.
If you’re a member of your local public radio station, we thank you — because your support helps those stations keep programs like Marketplace on the air. But for Marketplace to continue to grow, we need additional investment from those who care most about what we do: superfans like you.
Your donation — as little as $5 — helps us create more content that matters to you and your community, and to reach more people where they are – whether that’s radio, podcasts or online.
When you contribute directly to Marketplace, you become a partner in that mission: someone who understands that when we all get smarter, everybody wins.