TMAW Keeps Fighting the Battles the Industry Can’t Afford to Concede

Written by  Nick Ivanoff, ARTBA Chairman

The passage of a permanent Highway Trust Fund (HTF) fix and a multi-year highway and transit bill has been the focus of ARTBA’s Transportation Makes America Works (TMAW) program during the first quarter of 2015.

As I write this column in mid-April, it remains unclear what direction Congress will take regarding these important measures. The funding authorization for the highway and transit program, which is financed through the HTF, expires at the end of May. And Congress can’t move to pass a long-term bill until it reaches agreement on the HTF.

These are critical battles with no room for surrender. That’s why ARTBA, through the TMAW program, has been launching a wave of “advocacy carpet bombings” to keep the pressure on members of Congress and the Obama Administration.

Bridge Report Card

On April 1, ARTBA caused a big splash with the release of its second annual “bridge report card,” which showed that 61,000 structurally deficient U.S. bridges need urgent repair. ARTBA staff placed the story first with USA Today, which drove all the subsequent—and extensive—national and local news coverage in print, online, on radio and television. Almost every story referenced the pending HTF crisis.

Policy Substance

ARTBA March 12 released a substantive proposal to help jump start policy discussions on the Hill. Our “Getting Beyond Gridlock” (GBG) plan was well received by members of Congress from both parties. GBG marries a 15 cents-pergallon increase in the federal gas and diesel motor fuels tax with a 100 percent offsetting federal tax rebate for middle and lower income Americans for six years. It would fund a $401 billion, six-year highway and public transit capital investment program and provide sustainable, user-based funds to support it for at least the next 10 years.

Congressional Quarterly noted: “[T]he ARTBA plan seeks to turn the tax issue on its head and perhaps change the terms of a long-running debate in Congress.” We will continue to push GBG.

Social Media & Advertising Campaign

In March, the 31 members of the ARTBA co-chaired Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) used their respective social media networks to release 10 infographs over a two-week period, with each containing a key finding from new research conducted by IHS Global— “Transportation Infrastructure Investment: Macroeconomic and Industry Contribution of Federal Highway and Mass Transit Program”—quantifying the economic impacts of the federal surface transportation program. The campaign was augmented with digital and print advertising.

“Economy-Driven: Innovations Driving the ROI in U.S. Transportation Infrastructure”

To educate the new Congress about the enormous value of infrastructure investments, ARTBA developed a custom, 32-page magazine showcasing industry innovation and the use of cutting-edge technology—through a series of 25 project vignettes—to deliver transportation improvements that provide a real return on investment for U.S. taxpayers. The magazine will be distributed nationally to an audience of about 30,000 and to all congressional offices in late April.

Coalitions

While ARTBA utilizes TMAW to advance the transportation construction industry’s agenda, we are still making make major six-figure investments in supporting industry coalitions pushing complementary messages about the HTF and the passage of a long-term transportation bill, including: the U.S. Chamber-led Americans for Transportation Mobility, TCC, The Road Information Program, and Energy Equipment & Infrastructure Alliance.

More information about these TMAW initiatives can be found on www.tmaw.com.

We continue to prepare other advocacy “smart bombs” to direct at Congress until it completes the task at hand, but we need your help.

If you’ve already made your TMAW contribution again this year, we say “thank you.” If you have not, we ask your company to make a major financial commitment soon. As you can probably guess, many of our opponents outspend us every day. That’s why your continued financial support is so critical.

Regardless of what happens by the May 31 stopgap funding deadline, or later this summer, let’s continue sharing the pro-transportation investment message with the American people and keeping pressure the 114th Congress. I know there’s some battle fatigue out there, but we can hardly afford to stop fighting for our industry.



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