Testimony in SUPPORT of LD 901 – An Act To Ensure Sustainable Infrastructure Funding
Abby King, Advocacy Coordinator
Bicycle Coalition of Maine
April 7, 2015
Good Afternoon Chairman Collins, Chairman McLean, and Members of the Committee. My name is Abby King and I am here on behalf of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and our 5,000 members. We are the statewide organization that advocates for bicyclists and pedestrians. I urge you to SUPPORT LD 901.
Like many other states, Maine faces increasing road maintenance costs at a time when highway fund dollars are in decline. The challenge of maintaining thousands of miles of rural roads and bridges is one that is critical to the success of our economy and lifestyle. And while we often think just in terms of the impacts on motorized traffic that poor roads have, roadway maintenance has a huge impact on all users of Maine’s road system. Crumbling shoulders and bumpy roads put walkers and bicyclists at extra risk by forcing them further into the roadways. We must find a way to pay for repairs to our transportation infrastructure system so that it can serve the needs of all. Tying the fuel tax to efficiency standards is part of the solution to this problem.
Safe, equitable roads are a fundamental public good – no one is going to repair potholes, repave or rebuild streets, or build sidewalks and multi-use paths if the government doesn’t. States across the country are adjusting their fuel taxes to pay for the upkeep of deteriorating roads. Raising fuel taxes to boost spending on roads is fiscally responsible because as transportation facilities deteriorate it becomes more expensive to repair and replace them. Fixing our roads will never be cheaper than it is right now.
Nationally, an average of 90% of all trips between one and three miles are taken by car[i]. About 43% of trips made in a car are three miles or less, and 20% are one mile or less[ii]. Maine would be well served by a policy that would help to reduce the number of short car trips, which are costly for drivers, and costly to the road system (causing wear-and-tear and contributing to traffic congestion). If we could increase the number of trips made safely by foot and bike, which do not tax the system the way car trips do we would save additional dollars down the road. Tying the gas tax to fuel standards is such a policy – it creates disincentives to drive and encourages people to carpool, take the bus, bike, or walk.
Tying fuel taxes to efficiency standards is a fair way to increase the highway fund revenues we need for maintenance, and to reduce maintenance costs in the future by reducing the number of unnecessary car trips. Without this increase, we will not be able to make smart investments in a transportation system that serves all users.
For these reasons I urge you to support LD 901. Thank you for your time and I would be glad to answer any questions.
[i] Rails to Trails Conservancy, “Active Transportation For America” http://www.railstotrails.org/atfa
[ii] NHTS 2009, FHWA Office of Policy. www.advocacyadvance.org/docs/nhts09.pdf