SURFACE TRANSPORTATION: THE CASE FOR GROWTH, BY MICHAEL S. BRONZINI, PhD, P.E.
Free Congressis pleased to present this comprehensive transportation study by Michael S. Bronzini, PhD, P.E. Free Congress asked Dr. Bronzini to undertake a thorough examination of the importance of transportation in economic development in the United States. As this study is completed, the U.S. Congress in preparing a new highway and transportation bill this session.
As this study is written, the United States is experiencing significant economic distress. After the “Great Recession”, economic recovery has been slow, and growth is non-existent. Unemployment remains above nine percent. Free Congress is committed to developing a program of growth as a possible guide for the United States.
For many years, Free Congress has focused attention to possible transportation solutions for the United States. Because of our current focus on the economic challenges facing the U.S., we have asked Dr. Bronzini to offer a comprehensive examination of why the Congress should be committed to transportation development.
This study helps define the respective roles of government and the private sector in surface transportation development. It provides data to explain why government investment must be engaged, not only to provide services to the public, but to spur the economy. The study discusses the range of options available for surface transportation and advocates for mass transit where appropriate for population concentration. Dr. Bronzini’s study is frank about the deficiency of financing of transportation to correct these funding challenges. While the Free Congress Foundation is not ready to call for additional taxes for transportation at this time, we are grateful for the intellectual integrity that identifies the funding issue as a challenge that must be addressed.
Free Congress recommends the following policy to the Congress:
- A National transportation strategy is necessary to identify the projects that will be of greatest value to the growth of the American economy. A mechanism must be created to set priorities of road and surface transportation construction.
- A process for road and surface construction must be merit based, with objective criteria, to carry out the national strategy. Earmarks for projects to reward particular Congressmen must be abolished, and publically condemned if the country is to advance to transportation programs.
- The National leadership should prevent the invasion of highway and transportation funds for non-transportation projects. Special requirements that meet policy goals not connected with the movement of people and goods should be prohibited. There is not enough money to go around, and it cannot be diverted to museums and special projects unrelated to transportation.
- We should utilize innovative mechanisms to gain funds for transportation. Dr. Bronzini discussed almost all of them, but Free Congress particularly endorses GARVEE bonds.
- Deploy the General Funds of the United States, instead of merely relying on dedicated revenues. If transportation can aid economic development, it should be a priority in the budget of the United States.
- Fully examine the environmental and other regulations to test whether their policy goals are so critical as to delay or prevent transportation construction. Streamlining must become a priority, and actual speed of project completion must become a priority.
- Conduct an objective study to determine whether the Davis-Bacon Act is retarding infrastructure construction by miscalculating “prevailing wages” and improperly increasing the cost of federally financed transportation projects. The repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act would likely add jobs, and stretch transportation money to add projects and relieve the crisis of federal transportation funding, while still paying fair wages to workers
Free Congress is pleased to offer Dr. Bronzini’s paper in the hope that it will spur discussion, and aid in the furtherance of an ambitious transportation construction and maintenance program that will be an aid to the economic recovery and economic progress in the 21st Century.
Free Congress wishes to acknowledge the support of the American Public Transportation Association in the development of Dr. Bronzini’s study.