The U.S. needs a sustainable system of funding for infrastructure

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The March 12 editorial “Running on Empty: Save Transportation — Raise the Federal Gas Tax” is absolutely correct that we need a sustainable solution to pay for our nation’s infrastructure needs.

Across the country, bridges, roads and rail are in such a state of disrepair that our failing infrastructure will cost the average American family $1,060 a year by 2020, according to a study done by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The year 2020 used to seem like the distant future. In reality, it’s right around the corner and will find us relying heavily on the infrastructure we already have, not hover cars. We can either pay some to maintain and repair that infrastructure now, or pay much more later to fix it once it’s collapsed.

President Barack Obama’s budget seeks to fund infrastructure by raising revenue in other areas, but that doesn’t reflect the way in which we should actually pay for transportation. The solution comes in the form of what The Washington Post calls the “unassailable principle that those who use the roads should pay for them.”

That’s why I have introduced the UPDATE Act, which would raise the gas tax by 15 cents over a three-year period and index it to inflation, raising around $170 billion over 10 years. This should be the last time Congress raises the gas tax, and it should provide us the time we need to research and implement a sustainable system, not based on gallons of fuel consumed, but on road use and vehicle miles traveled.

Portland, Ore.

The writer, a Democrat, represents Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District.

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