U.S. Chamber offers reward for highway funding fix

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The leader of the nation’s largest business organization today staked out repair and rebuilding America’s crumbling bridges and highways as one of its priorities for 2019 and is putting its money where its mouth is.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue, in his annual State of American Business address, said “we face the crucial task of modernizing the physical platform of our economy, much of which has already outlived its lifespan.” Donohue added, “Nearly everyone agrees that investing in our infrastructure is a major national priority — what’s missing is a sense of urgency.”

Donohue also said what’s missing is a way to pay for infrastructure improvements, which has been a perennial problem.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Donohue (U.S. Chamber of Commerce photo)U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Donohue (U.S. Chamber of Commerce photo)

“You’ve heard me say for years that a modest increase to the motor vehicle fuel user fee — which hasn’t been adjusted in 25 years — can be a big part of the solution,” said Donohue. “I’ve also said the Chamber is open to viable alternatives—but we haven’t heard too many other ideas.”

So, to spur infrastructure development, Donohue said the chamber is offering a reward to anyone who can help solve the longstanding funding problem.

“The Chamber will be offering cash prizes totaling $25,000 to those who can come up with the best, most viable ideas for a long-term sustainable funding source for infrastructure,” said Donohue. “We want to hear from everyone — students, academics, business leaders, the people out there doing the building — everyone.”

He said the Chamber will consolidate and publish all of the good ideas it receives, and discuss them at the organization’s Infrastructure Summit Feb. 5.

Donohue said the Chamber will also discuss what he called “the urgent need for permitting reform and getting a whole army of people ready to do the work.”

He also called on Washington to pass what he called significant infrastructure package this year.

“I’ve been working on these issues for more than 30 years,” said Donohue. “It is my hope that the public and private sector leaders of this country will finally come together and help build the next generation of U.S. infrastructure — a modern, safe, and efficient system that history will regard as one of the great American feats of the 21st century.”