U.S. Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, told American Trucking Associations members that passing important highway legislation this year will be difficult given the current economic climate.
Known as SAFETEA, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2003 is the Department of Transportation reauthorization bill that funds highway construction over the next six years. The price tag for the legislation – $311 billion in the U.S. House of Representatives – is staggering, and Cornyn told attendees to ATA’s winter meeting in Washington, D.C., that President Bush’s pledge not to raise taxes and the large federal budget deficit will make it difficult to get what the American highway system needs.
“There will be resistance to dipping into the general fund to make up the difference due to the deficit,” he said. “There’s a big challenge looming on this transportation bill.”
Cornyn challenged trucking companies to make their voices heard and warned that toll roads may be the only way to pay for new roads. “The cost of not doing these (highway) projects is unacceptable. We must have a solid transportation bill to get people back to work and keep transportation moving,” he said.