Congress isn’t apt to pass a long-term surface transportation funding bill by June 1, according to several officials taking part Jan. 29-30 in a conference co-sponsored by the American Association of Port Authorities and the Transportation Research Board, in cooperation with the U.S. Maritime Administration.
At the Shifting International Trade Routes conference, hosted by Port Tampa Bay, those who told AJOT they don’t believe multiyear successor legislation to MAP-21 will gain approval before its extension expires May 31 include: Kristin Decas, AAPA chairwoman and CEO of Port of Hueneme, Calif.; Paul Anderson, Port Tampa Bay’s port director and CEO and a former Federal Maritime Commission member; Chris Smith, intermodal policy and program manager of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials; Louisiana Secretary of Transportation and Development Sherri LeBas, who chairs AASHTO’s Water Transportation Committee; and Robert E. Martinez, Norfolk Southern Corp.’s vice president of business development, formerly Virginia’s transportation secretary and U.S. associate deputy secretary of transportation.
Consensus among conferees was that, rather than pass a long-term bill, Congress will settle on another short-term extension.
Decas said that, with low oil prices, Americans may be more accepting of a fuels tax hike as a funding mechanism, but, realistically, like others, opined that a continuing resolution will pass Congress and again temporarily keep the current insufficient level of federal surface transportation funding in place.
AAPA’s president and CEO, Kurt J. Nagle, said getting agreement on Capitol Hill on the kind of all-inclusive, five-year funding bill industry leaders seek will be “a tough hill to climb,” but worth a wait if and when such legislation passes.
Comprehensive coverage of the Tampa conference will appear in the Feb. 23 Florida ports edition of AJOT.