Jun 26, 2014 - 12:00pm

Mayor, Governor Agree: Highway Funding Should be Bipartisan Issue

States across the U.S. are pulling back on infrastructure projects that were intended to advance the efficiency and growth of their communities, according to two state and local leaders.

Kentucky and Florida politicians took to the Department of Transportation's Blog to explain how the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) has supported their localities, and why it is necessary to continue funding state transportation.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear told their communities’ stories on the Fast Lane Blog, which features testimonials from policymakers to “show readers how this funding crisis will touch their everyday lives.”

“Transportation is the ability to get goods, services, and people from one place to another,” Buckhorn says in his post, “Reliable transportation is vital to long-term competitiveness. ” So the upkeep of this ability is crucial to the success of a community because infrastructure supports people and goods. It makes daily commerce possible. Networks of transportation are vital parts of towns and cities across the nation.

And, more importantly, “this immensely valuable system would not be possible without the support of the Federal Highway Administration and funding through the Federal Highway Trust Fund,” Beshear says in his post. He references that 80% of a typical highway project is federally funded.

Both Buckhorn and Beshear note that construction within Tampa and Kentucky relies on this federal funding. “Our infrastructure is stable and reliable. The problem is that we don’t have enough of it,” says Buckhorn.  Projects that were drawn up in order to support Tampa’s growing economy are in danger of being put on hold, specifically a project to widen Highway I-275. Tampa’s central highway connects points of interest like the University of South Florida and the downtown area. This project has been in the works since 1989 and is part of a larger plan that is unlikely to be completed, indicated by the extremely slow work on I-275. This is disappointing news to Buckhorn, who says, “Having good, reliable transportation options is vital to our long-term economic competitiveness as a city and as a country.”

Kentucky’s economy also relies on transportation for its “motor-vehicle manufacturing, freight movement, agricultural exports, and tourism,” Beshear says. He believes that bipartisanship is needed to save the HTF. Such bipartisanship helped the Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project. An agreement between Democrat Beshear, Democrat Mayor of Louisiana Greg Fischer, and former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican, put this project into motion after being stuck on the drawing board for 40 years. In his post, Beshear accredits this to the fact that the state officials “decided to ignore party lines.”

“Bipartisanship saved the Project,” Beshear says. “Bipartisanship is needed today to save the Federal Highway Trust Fund.”

Read and share a letter to Congress from 30 state chambers calling for investment in transportation infrastructure.

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