On August 11, 2021, Jim Burnley and Fred Wagner were quoted in Logistics Management on what challenges remain following the U.S. Senate’s passage of the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). According to the article, the deal provides about $567 billion in new federal money for roads, bridges, rail lines, transit projects, water systems, and other physical infrastructure programs, but more work needs to be done for everything to fall into place moving forward.
Burnley described the Senate’s passing of the IIJA as a major step, albeit with some caveats. “We are a long way from having legislation signed by President Biden,” he said. The lack of user fees to pay for infrastructure upgrades is notable. Burnley observed that the Department of Transportation (DOT) will need to figure out how to implement the vehicle miles traveled (VMT) pilot program, which he said has received pushback on from both sides of the aisle in recent days, noting that criticism is way off target, as it is a pilot program—and there have been VMT pilots at the state level in Oregon, California, and Utah.
“It is a way to learn what the alternatives are as a practical matter to the fuel tax,” he said. “I was personally pleased they included a pilot program but am a little surprised at the flack it has drawn.”
Wagner said that the bottom line of this bill is that there is more deficit spending. “If they are not going to be increasing user fees then they need to get more serious about this moving forward,” said Wagner. “And, remember, this goes hand in hand with the major push towards electrification, which only exacerbates the problem in terms of the collection of revenue.”
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