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August 3, 2016

CBO Looks To Smarten Highway Spending

A new report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a report of particular interest to truck drivers and the trucking industry: looking at ways of making infrastructure spending more productive.

The CBO has expressed concern that “spending on highways does not correspond very well with how the roads are used and valued,” leading them to pursue additional ways to spend in a more cost-effective manner. The group presented three “funding paths” as potential solutions, though they did not endorse any of them. The approaches were analyzed, with the pros and cons of each taken into account.

The CBO’s main conclusion “suggested the most upside and the least downside could come from allocating more federal funds through a benefit-cost analysis of how the money would be spent.” The CBO advises policymakers to boost the impact of the highway spending by committing more funds to programs and projects that themselves have economic benefits that would outweigh the costs of the projects, rather than simply giving money based on geography or providing a fixed amount of funding to the states.

Among the suggested improvements that would fall under this umbrella include expanding urban interstates and making major repairs on urban highways, and repairing bridges and roads in rural areas. In addition, the CBO suggested giving more money to existing programs, such as the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program.

Another recommendation by the CBO is advocating for direct charges to drivers on these roads, suggesting per-mile charges or so-called “congestion pricing” on interstates.

Promoting fiscal responsibility is part of the long-term plan for improving infrastructure after years of congressional squabbling and procrastination in establishing a roads bill. This has left many trucking companies twisting as they waited to see whether roads would receive funding for improvements and upgrades. A long-term solution was recently found, but funding continues to be an issue.

Read more on this plan at this link.