Editorial: States need long-term funding plan for highways

The Corridor H Authority this week called on Congress to work together and pass a long-term transportation funding bill rather than another stop-gap spending measure that funds highway construction and repairs for only another 10 months.

For years and on too many projects, Congress tends to “kick the can down the road,” which in this case evokes an image of the can not getting too far due to potholes and deterioration.

The House of Representatives voted on such a bill this week with a $10.8 billion fix with the Senate following suit with an even less ambitious proposed fix.

The short-term solution is better than allowing the fund to go broke, but it does not provide the continuity that states and highway contractors need to plan and conduct highway construction and road repairs over the long term.

“Passing extension after extension just maintains the status quo,” said West Virginia Rep. Nick Rahall, the top Democrat on the House Transportation Committee. “I’m going to vote for this bill today regardless of it’s not the best solution.”

Corridor H Authority Chairman Robbie Morris spoke to the Daily Mail’s Whitney Burdette. “In West Virginia, with the amount of roads we have to maintain and construction of new infrastructure that can create economic development such as Corridor H, it’s very difficult for (West Virginia Department of Transportation Secretary Paul) Maddox and the Division of Highways to plan effectively and allocate funding sources for projects when they don’t know how much they’ll have and for how long.”

Without a sure funding mechanism, work on Corridor H, as well as other highway projects, may slow or even cease.

“When you don’t know if the money is coming, it’s going to be hard to get contractors to continue working,” Morris said. “I would say a decent bit of work will stop until there is a deal made in Congress. That’s not good for anybody.”

True. Providing for a system of transportation is one of the most basic of all Congressional responsibilities. Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution calls for the Congress to establish post offices and post roads.

Unfortunately, with the massive growth of expensive government programs that aren’t among the most essential needs, Congress has a harder time trying to fund the programs that are essential.

Congress and the administration need to remember that it’s the basic infrastructure that supports commerce and business development for economic growth. Congress can bicker and withhold funding on the non-essential functions of government, but must focus on providing adequate funds to build and maintain the nation’s highway infrastructure.

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