ISTEA to The Rescue

Highway travel continues to increase, while the conditions of our highways and bridges continue to decline- guaranteeing that roads will get worse, more inefficient and more dangerous.
The good news is that opportunity exists this year to reverse that course when Congress considers reauthorization of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act.
The $155 billion ISTEA legislation authorizes virtually all surface transportation funding. Enacted in 1991, ISTEA provides funding for the National Highway System, which includes the interstate system and other heavily traveled routes.

DIVERTING DOLLARS
Unfortunately, ISTEA has been underfunded during each year of its existence. Congress and the administration have failed to adequately fund highways and have diverted gas taxes to non-transportation programs. This has prompted AAA to join efforts to take the Highway Trust Fund - the repository for gas taxes - off budget.
During this year's ISTEA reauthorization, AAA will ask Congress to:

  • Significantly increase spending levels for highways.
  • Take the Highway Trust Fund off budget.
  • Redirect the current 4.3-cents per-gallon gas tax, which currently goes to deficit reduction, into the Highway Trust Fund.
  • Reaffirm a strong federal role in national transportation policy and financing.
  • Restructure the transportation enhancement program to focus on highway safety projects and improved traffic-safety data collection.

Last year, AAA launched "Crisis Ahead: America's Aging Highways and Airways," a campaign to draw national attention to the deteriorating state of the nation's highways. Further cuts in transportation funding will assure continued deterioration of a highway system vital to the nation's economic growth.

ISTEA reauthorization gives us a chance to take corrective action before a transportation crisis is upon us.

JAMES L. KOLSTAD,
Vice President, AAA
Public and Government Relations
Reprinted with permission, Bill Purpura
AAA Columbus Office

The 51st annual OTEC conference is coming up November 18-19, 1997 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, 400 North High Street, Columbus, OH.
If you need further information, please contact Cheryl Hoot at (614) 292-4815.

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