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Open Access Publications from the University of California

New Federal Transportation Financing and Legislative Directions: No New Taxe or $31 Billion a Year?

  • Author(s): Shaw, Peter L.
  • et al.

In the domestic arena of public policy and administration, the American public rarely sees basic choices on complex subjects. The country may be facing such a moment in 1991, due to the expiration of the Surface Transportatation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act of 1987 on September 30, 1991. Not since the Interstate System concept became federal law in 1956 has so clear a public works decision point been reached.

Upon anticipated completion of the system in 1992, an estimated $121.9 billion ($108.3 billion federal) will have purchased 42,904 miles. Assuming the gas tax generated highway trust fund exists for another thirty years (1990 to 2020),  amount exceeding $i0 billion a year ($300 billion total) may accrue. With the national fiscal context very much in mind, many interest groups may look covetously at that income stream and dream: "What if...?" President Bush and Congress have joined the debate with release in March 1990 of quite different proposals. This study examines major public policy issues defining the foundation of national surface transportation debate and suggests a long-term goal framework for developing national policy.

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