State’s Transportation Leader Says Nation Must Solve Better Highway Funding

Better roads and bridges in Oklahoma almost go hand in hand with the state’s energy industry, whether it involves oil and gas rigs or wind towers being hauled over weakened bridges or deteriorating highways. And the state’s transportation leader says not just Oklahoma but the nation must come to grips with ways to fund improvements.

Oklahoma’s Transportation Secretary Gary Ridley says it’s become ‘critical’ that Congress find new ways to fund transportation improvements nationally if the U.S. is to keep the country viable. And he calls the current funding method outdated.

“The antiquated volumetric gas and diesel tax support structure for the Highway Trust Fund served us well in the past,” wrote Ridley in the Oklahoma Economic Report issued by State Treasurer Ken Miller. “However, the Census Bureau expects the population of the United States to grow by 100 million through the year 2060 and USDOT projects that freight traffic is likely to double during that same period.”

Ridley says the Highway Trust Fund will not generate the investment levels necessary to pay for ‘the desperately needed transportation system improvements and expansions that are required to keep pace with the demands of the future.’

He says no magic bullet exists to resolve the transportatio sysem investment dilemma and that much like in the 1950s, the solution will be predicated on clear communication of the issues, the suupport of the traveling public and years of diligent focus.

The Transportation Secretary says it’s clear there is a growing rift between the service level expectations of the population and the willingness to identify ways to invest in improving the operational infrastructures of our country.

“It is very likely that our complacency is simply a reflection of a complete unawareness of the critical infrastructure needs that exist along with a lack of understanding of the resources that will be necessary to sustain and reinvent our world-class status for future generations.”