U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx embarked Monday on a weeklong "Invest in America, Commit to the Future" bus tour that will take him to eight states, where he will try to drum up support for funding a large surface transportation bill and restoring solvency to the Highway Trust Fund before it runs out of money later this summer.
The current two-year transportation authorization expires at the end of September, but the Highway Trust Fund is paying out more in obligations than it takes in due to demographic and auto technology trends that have reduced gas tax collections. Six weeks ago, the Obama administration proposed a four-year, $302 billion spending plan for repairing and upgrading the nation's highways, bridges and transit systems, with half the money coming from a one-time transfer of revenue projected from any business tax reform Congress might enact. It would plug the hole in the Highway Trust Fund and provide it an additional $90 billion.
The trip is designed to show Americans how manufacturing, jobs and transportation are linked in hopes they will put pressure on Congress to act.
On Monday, Foxx made three stops. In Pickaway County, Ohio, near Columbus, he celebrated the DOT's $16-million TIGER grant for the Pickaway County Connector, which will add another important route for commercial motor carriers. He visited the I-75 improvement project in Dayton, Ohio, which is adding capacity with a third lane and improving traffic flow by removing left-hand exit and entry ramps with the help of $162 million in federal highway aid. He ended the day at the Siemen's Norwood Motors Manufacturing Facility, which makes locomotives, to tout the administration's $12-billion investment in high-performance rail during the past five years.