America’s Crumbling Infrastructure: Bridging The Gap
New Jersey’s scramble to find money for basic repairs is not unusual. The Highway Trust Fund, a pot of federal cash that covers a quarter of spending by states on infrastructure, will have to start withholding money this summer to keep its balance above zero, as required by law. “The problem with the trust fund,” says David Walker, a former head of the Government Accountability Office, “is that it’s not funded and you can’t trust it.”
A short-term fix may be found: Congress has already passed ten of these, shifting money from elsewhere to make up for a persistent shortfall in revenue from fuel taxes, which have been held constant since 1993. But such hand-to-mouth financing makes planning difficult and encourages city, state and local governments to put off repairs for as long as possible.