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Published: January, 2007; Vol 3, Num 8

 

LHSFNA Trustee Attacks Problem
Of Transportation Funding

Retiring after 20 years as the managing director of the General Contractors Association of New York, Inc., LHSFNA management trustee Francis X. McArdle has moved on to a new role on the recently created National Commission on Surface Transportation Funding (NCSHF).

In his new position, McArdle will join eleven other prominent commissioners in assessing how to pay for federal transportation projects in light of evolving business, traffic and funding trends nationwide.

Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta convened the Commission’s first meeting last May, addressing a number of these trends. He noted, for instance, that traffic tie-ups are imposing substantial costs on American businesses and affecting the quality of life for vast numbers of American taxpayers. He warned that polling data shows that there will be a future political cost if congestion continues to worsen.

Mineta also noted that many state and local governments are inventing new ways to fund transportation projects, but “the federal government has fallen behind in recognizing this trend and acting upon it.” Traditionally, federal highway construction is funded from the Highway Trust Fund which, in turn, is funded through gasoline taxes.

Seldom have the resources of the Highway Trust Fund been applied to rail transportation, whether intercity trains or local metro or subway systems. Yet, rail will be increasingly important in relieving highway congestion. Moreover, according to some sources, projected gasoline tax revenues are insufficient to fund all the road transportation projects contemplated in the 2005 passage of the federal highway bill, known as SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: a Legacy for Users). Since Congress is unlikely to raise taxes, the funding of projects through 2009, many of which will employ LIUNA members, is in some doubt.

McArdle has a strong interest in the nation’s transportation problems. Further, as a management representative with a long and close working relationship with the union movement, he has an active interest in discovering new ways to fund transportation projects. Appointed by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D – NY), he will serve on the Commission for five years.

The Commission held two field hearings in November.  It has additional hearings planned for early 2007 in Los Angeles (Feb. 21-22), Atlanta (Feb. 21-22) and Minneapolis-St. Paul (April 18-19). The hearings are designed to solicit input from federal, state and local transportation officials and experts as well as the general public.

[Steve Clark]