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The Highway Users Urges Congress To Restore Highway Investments

March 5, 2002

The 45 million members of the American Highway Users Alliance have called on Congress to use a $19 billion Highway Trust Fund surplus to restore a potential $8.6 billion drop in federal highway funding in FY 2003 and to reject tighter Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards that would compromise vehicle safety and consumer vehicle choice. In a letter bearing the names of 346 groups from all over the country and hand-delivered to every member of Congress, The Highway Users urged the lawmakers to co-sponsor the Highway Funding Restoration Act (S. 1917 and H.R. 3694) which could help to avert thousands of lost jobs and project delays that are likely to result from an $8.6 billion (27 percent) cut in the federal highway program next year. "Without congressional action, guaranteed highway funding for 2003 will fall to $23.2 billion, down from $31.8 billion this year," said William D. Fay, president and CEO of the American Highway Users Alliance. "Because the highway account already has a cash surplus of $19 billion — taxes already paid in full by American motorists and truckers — it makes no sense for Congress to allow this economy-busting drop in highway funding to occur while the trust fund balance sitting in Washington, D.C., grows even larger." In a separate letter, Fay also encouraged the U.S. Senate to oppose the Kerry-Hollings corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) language proposed in the Energy Policy Act of 2002 (S. 517). If approved, the proposed language would increase the fleet-wide CAFE standard to 35 miles per gallon in 2013. At the present time, car fleets are expected to achieve a CAFE standard of 27.5 miles per gallon. Light trucks and SUVs must achieve a fuel economy average of 20.7 miles per gallon. "There are far better ways to improve fuel economy for all vehicles than arbitrarily raising CAFE standards. A good start would be to enact measures relieving the stifling traffic congestion that is choking our nation’s highways," Fay said. Fay noted that idling in traffic burns billions of gallons of fuel unnecessarily. A study commissioned by The Highways Users found that improving traffic flow at America’s 167 worst bottlenecks would reduce gasoline and diesel consumption by nearly 20 billion gallons over the next 20 years. Furthermore, Fay said that a recent National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study has linked higher CAFE standards with reduced vehicle safety. "With 42,000 Americans losing their lives on our nation’s highways each year – a total that has been rising steadily since 1992 – Congress should not enact legislation that reduces vehicle safety," Fay added. The American Highway Users Alliance represents motorists, truckers, and a broad cross-section of businesses that depend on safe and efficient highways to transport their families, customers, employees, and products. Highway Users members pay the bulk of the taxes that finance the federal highway program and advocate public policies that dedicate those taxes to improved highway safety and mobility. The text of both letters and the list of signatories can be found online at www.highways.org.
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