By: The National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission
Date: February 2009
The nation faces a crisis. Our surface transportation system has deteriorated to such a degree that our safety, economic competitiveness, and quality of life are at risk.
As a nation, we have reaped the benefits of previous generations’ foresight and investment, generations that developed and built a transportation system that became the envy of the world. Over the last few decades we have grown complacent, expecting to be served by high-quality infrastructure, even as we devoted less and less money in real terms to the maintenance and expansion of that infrastructure. Not only have we failed to make the needed and substantial investment; we have failed to pursue the kind of innovation necessary to ensure that our infrastructure meets the demands of future generations.
The Commission sought out the best ideas, the latest data, and the strongest research.
Commissioners vigorously debated the options and developed recommendations for improved methods to fund and finance our national surface transportation infrastructure. While no first draft of a major reform is perfect, the Commission respectfully and unanimously offers its report as a road map for the transition to a new funding and finance framework, in the hope that this will inspire and inform further efforts toward a national surface transportation system that is more efficient, more effective, and more sustainable.
The Commission’s recommendation to shift from our current funding approaches, based largely on indirect user fees in the form of federal motor fuel taxes, toward a new system built around more direct user charges in the form of fees for miles driven will require hard work, thoughtful attention to myriad policy issues and implementation details, and the cooperation and support of the American people.